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January 8, 2014
Report Card: Wide Receivers
Wisconsin's 2013 football season is in the books, so it's time to pass out our position grades after the Badgers finished the year 9-4 with a 34-24 loss to South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.
Wisconsin's running backs passed their season evaluation with flying colors, but the wide receivers didn't turn many heads. The BadgerBlitz.com staff's grades for Jared Abbrederis and the rest of Wisconsin's faceless men are included below:
John Veldhuis: When you get down to it the Badgers just didn't have enough playmakers at this position to get back to that 10-win plateau. Abbrederis was a great college player, but program attrition took its toll over the last few years. The players the previous coaching staff thought they would count on during their junior and senior seasons didn't end up sticking around that long for a variety of reasons, and there wasn't enough talent left for the Badgers to identify a clear No. 2 receiver who could keep Abbrederis from drawing double teams.
Kenzel Doe, Jordan Fredrick and a few other players could make an impact next season, but Gary Andersen and his staff need to rebuild this position group from the ground up.
Jon McNamara: Wisconsin began fall camp looking for someone to step up opposite senior Jared Abbrederis. The staff never found that compliment. Abbrederis caught 78 passes for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013. Conversely, Jeff Duckworth (12), Jordan Fredrick (10), Alex Erickson (9), Kenzel Doe (7) and Rob Wheelwright (2) combined for just 40 receptions all season.
Chris Beatty will have a handful of newcomers this summer when Chris Jones, Natrell Jamerson, Krenwick Sanders and Dareian Watkins arrive on campus.
Jon Gorman: Jared Abbrederis is really good. The rest of the Badgers' wide receiver corps - not so much. After Abbrederis' 78 catches and 1,081 yards, the next highest producer for Wisconsin this season was Jeff Duckworth with 12 catches and 176 yards. That simply is not good enough for a team that had Big Ten Championship aspirations coming into the season.
Jordan Frederick continues to block exceptionally well, and Alex Erickson came on late, but the Badgers are going to need to find a way to replace Abbrederis' production next season or they are going to continue to see eight or nine defenders in the box on every single play. Look for one or more of Reggie Love, Rob Wheelwright, Krenwick Sanders, Chris Jones and Darien Watkins to step up and challenge for a starting spot.
Zack Miller: Okay, yes the receiving corps was extremely top-heavy for the Badgers this season, but that doesn't mean they were disappointing. Multiple times this season, mainly the 10 reception, 207 yard and one touchdown performance against Ohio State, Jared Abbrederis carried the Badgers in the passing game. While the knock on this group has been first and foremost that there is no legit No. 2 WR, I'm not quite sure what that would have accomplished. Would a second receiver turn Stave into one of the nation's top quarterbacks? Probably not. Would a second receiver have changed the outcome of the Arizona St. debacle? Probably not. Would a second receiver have helped the Badgers' offense in the Capital One Bowl? Probably not.
The point is that I can't remember a game this season where I thought to myself, "you know, the running game just isn't working today and maybe if these receivers would catch these perfectly placed Stave passes, the Badgers would have a chance." With Abbrederis off to greener pastures next season, however, the Badgers are going to have to rely on younger and less experienced receivers to fill his shoes.
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.