Welcome to my first mailbag of the 2013 football season. I'll answer your questions every week from the Badger's Den and take questions over Twitter and through plain old email, so if you have a question you'd like me to feature go right ahead and send them in.
We'll start off with questions from the Badger's Den, our exclusive message board for BadgerBlitz.com subscribers.
BadgerBlitz.com member Wiscofball369er writes: Who's redshirting? What happened to Keelon Brookins?
Of the 15 scholarship freshmen the Badgers brought in this fall, it's clear right away that the coaching staff thinks running back Corey Clement, outside linebacker Leon Jacobs, and cornerbacks Sojourn Shelton and Jakarrie Washington can all help the team this year.
In addition, Hayden Biegel is listed on Wisconsin's week one two-deep at left tackle, but I'm betting the Badgers would like to redshirt him if at all possible. I think he could play in an emergency, but the Badgers probably want to give him some time to develop. My guess is that Robert Wheelwright also sees the field for the Badgers this year, but I haven't heard anything definitive on him just yet.
That leaves Garret Dooley, Matt Hubley, Alec James, Jack Keeler, Matt Miller, Chikwe Obasih, Jazz Peavy, Austin Ramesh and T.J. Watt as your primary redshirt candidates. As for Brookins, I expect him to redshirt as well. He enrolled early and rehabbed his knee for all of spring practices, so fall camp was the first time he was able to participate in team drills.
BadgerBlitz.com member Sullybear1212 writes: Who or what surprised you the most during camp? A good surprise or bad surprise.
Leon Jacobs really outperformed the expectations that I had for him at the start of fall camp. I thought he was a dead lock to redshirt after playing just two years of football in high school, but he's an athletic specimen. Jacobs is still raw and is still learning the game of football, but he's got great open-field speed and showed some really instinctive pass-rush moves on the second and third team defenses. He's gone from a raw project to an intriguing special-teamer, and I think the Badgers will find any way they can to get him on the field this year.
On the flip side, Tanner McEvoy backed me up after I didn't want to make a prediction about the quarterback race until I saw him throw. I'm not sure what I expected out of him, but I think a lot of other people were caught off guard by how long it took him to get up to speed with the offense. He's just as athletic as the coaching staff touted, but wasn't close to winning the starting job at any point. We'll see what he can do at wide receiver in the meantime, and maybe this time next year he'll make a push after studying Andy Ludwig's offense for a year.
BadgerBlitz.com member CC Manhattan writes: Why do our field goal kickers still stink while our walk-on punter improves?
Yeah, Wisconsin's kickers have been anything but consistent recently. Their current situation is a far cry from 2008-11, when Philip Welch made 77.6 percent of his field goals (with longs of 52, 57, 49, and 52-yards in each season) and missed just four extra points.
Kyle French has the job for now, and we'll see how he does in week one against Massachusetts. He's been decent recently, but Jack Russell was giving him a real run for his money until he suffered a leg injury. That's a real turnaround for Russell, who struggled mightily for most of spring camp. I really don't know what to make of the kickers right now, so until we know more the Badgers will have to depend on finishing their drives and hope the situation gets straightened out before their game against Arizona State in week three.
And yes, Drew Meyer is still punting the ball well. In that sense, I don't think the Badgers have much to worry about right now.
Finally, it's not a football question, but I'll allow it since the Wisconsin basketball team was in action in Canada over the last week:
Sean Brooks (@ShawnBrabbit) tweets: Frank Kaminsky looks ok in the exhibition schedule, but he's not strong enough for the Big Ten season, is he?
Yeah, Kaminsky did pretty well for himself in Canada. I have him as averaging 15 points per game during that five-game swing north of the border, but I'm very concerned about Kaminsky just yet. He's listed at 6-foot-11 and weighed in at 230 pounds this year, which is a little thinner than someone like Jared Berggren or Mike Bruesewitz were, but I think Kaminsky's success or failure in the post will depend on how well he reads shots and puts himself in a good position to pull them in.
Ryan Evans was the team's best rebounder last year, even though he wasn't quite as big as Berggren or Bruesewitz. I know Kaminsky worked on adding a lot of muscle before last season, so I think he'll be fine in the post as of right now. We'll re-evaluate this when the Badgers start playing some higher-caliber non-conference teams later this year.
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