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August 5, 2012

Spring Camp: 5 upperclassmen to watch

With fall camp scheduled to open Monday, BadgerBlitz.com compiled three pieces to prep Wisconsin fans. The second installment: Five upperclassmen to watch during camp.

Five Upperclassmen to Watch During Fall Camp
Marcus Cromartie Why Watch What's at Stake Outcome
Cromartie was shaky in his first season as a starter. He'll open camp with the No. 1 defense but will be under a microscope this fall. The Texas native was one of the more intriguing prospects in UW's 2008 class. Cromartie hasn't quite lived up to expectations and this is his last chance in a Badger uniform. Cromartie made some big strides -- both mentally and physically -- during last year's off-season. There's no reason to think he can't make another significant jump in his development.
Ricky Wagner Why Watch What's at Stake Outcome
The fifth-year senior is now the elder statesman on an offense line that lost three starters from 2011. With a year under his belt, this is Wagner's chance to establish his legacy at Wisconsin. Wagner already has a unique story, going from walk-on to scholarship starter. He'll have a chance to be mentioned in the same sentence as Joe Thomas and Gabe Carimi with a breakout senior season. Wagner is quiet by nature but his play will likely set the tone on the line this year. He'll be responsible for protecting a first-year starting quarterback in 2012.
Devin Smith Why Watch What's at Stake Outcome
Smith missed a good deal of the 2011 season with a foot injury. He'll have to prove he's fully recovered and capable of starting at cornerback in 2012. With limited numbers in the senior class, Smith will also be expected to take on a leadership role on defense. Like Cromartie, he'll have a chance to end his Badger career on a high note. If healthy, Smith will likely be the top corner in 2012. Look for him to be more focused and more confident in his final fall camp.
Robert Burge Why Watch What's at Stake Outcome
Burge finds himself as a projected starter at right guard. He'll be challenged by a handful of youngsters itching to play with the No. 1 offense. Burge had a few blunders on special teams that were significant in 2011. This is his chance to leave Wisconsin on a high-note after walking on in 2008. Bret Bielema talked about how Burge changed his body this summer during the Big Ten Media Days. The fifth-year senior will likely be in a battle up until the final hours of camp for the right to start on the offensive line.
Curt Phillips Why Watch What's at Stake Outcome
It's amazing what Phillips has been able to endure since his time on campus. Three serious knee surgeries under his belt and Phillips is still fighting to keep his college football dream alive. For Phillips, the quality of life after football is at stake. Is he risking too much by trying to overcome three ACL tears in the same knee? He has been medical cleared for fall camp. Bielema was quick to note that Danny O'Brien, Joel Stave and Phillips will all be fighting for the starting job. Phillips has the respect of his teammates and is a legit threat to O'Brien this fall.

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