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April 20, 2014

Spring Wrap Up: Wide Receivers

MADISON, Wis. - 15 spring practices are in the books, so it's time to look back and sum up what we learned about each of Wisconsin's positions groups over the last month and a half.

Today we'll move on to the wide receivers, after I broke down the running backs on Saturday.

There will be plenty of playing time available for young players

The Badgers didn't find many answers at wide receiver during the spring, in large part because they couldn't keep more than four or five healthy players on the field for longer than a practice or two. Robert Wheelwright, Reggie Love, Alex Erickson, A.J. Jordan and others missed a significant amount of time during the spring, which kept them off the field and delayed some of their development.

That opens up the door for Dareian Watkins, Chris Jones, Natrell Jamerson, George Rushing and Krenwick Sanders to step in and earn some early playing time in their first season on campus. It seems highly likely that at least one or two of them will see the field right away, and the Badgers are probably going to take long looks at each of them.

Kenzel Doe will have a larger role

Doe might not be a prototypical downfield receiver, but he flashed at times during the spring. He benefitted from being on the field almost all the time, too- it gave him a chance to get into a rhythm, and he made some pretty impressive catches for a player of his size against bigger defensive backs.

The Badgers also started to use Doe as the motion man on some of their jet-sweep plays, which allowed him to get out into space and make some moves as if he were returning kicks. The Badgers are also planning on keeping Doe as their primary return man for punts and kickoffs, which will keep him involved even if they are able to find a few other receivers.

Robert Wheelwright and Reggie Love could help- if they stay healthy

Jordan Fredrick and Alex Erickson will probably compete for playing time along with Doe, but Wheelwright and Love flashed when they got on to the field this spring. Both players missed a large amount of time with nagging injuries, although they made it back in a limited fashion near the end of camp.

But they both flashed at times when they did see the field. Wheelwright looked more comfortable in his first two practices and Love showed off some circus catches thanks to his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. Getting either one of them to produce in the fall would help the Badgers stretch the field and improve their passing game. But both Wheelwright and Love will have to show they can be counted on for an extended period of time this fall before they can cement a spot in Wisconsin's two-deep.

Gary Andersen, 2014 spring game from Jon McNamara on Vimeo.

John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.

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