By Tom Lea
Bradie Ewing has had his fair share of issues regarding his shoulder throughout his development that has sidelined him at various junctures throughout his career, but it hasn't slowed his desire to be a productive player for Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin program. Originally starting his career as a walk-on running back, Ewing has transformed his body into one that has him poised to make an impact entering his senior year as the starting fullback. Standing 6-feet tall and weighing in around 230 pounds, Ewing has great size for a fullback in the Big Ten.
Considering Wisconsin likes to run as much as it does and considering both Montee Ball and James White (along with freshmen Jeffrey Lewis and Melvin Gordon) are chomping at the bit, Ewing's role as a primarily blocking fullback will play a major factor in the success of the Badger ground game. Then you throw in the fact that UW will have a brand new quarterback trying to pick up where Scott Tolzien left off and Ewing's role becomes even more important simply because he's been around the program long enough to fully understand the ins and outs of the offense.
Ewing's skill set also goes deeper than just his knack for making a solid block or picking up an oncoming blitzer. Though he probably won't wow anybody with his athleticism, he has the ability to serve as a legitimate passing threat for Jon Budmayr, particularly in the flat. He's not the fastest player by any means, but should there be an opportunity for him to get the ball in his hands he'll be a legitimate weapon in short yardage situations. When evaluating the fullback position it's important to have a player that loves and adheres to his role. Ewing seems to fit within those lines.
When the 2011 year gets going, Ewing will enter his senior year and final go round in Madison. Knowing that, Ewing will look to go out with a bang. And though he's not necessarily tabbed as a skill position player, what he does on a down-by-down basis will help a number of other players, ranging from tailback to wide receiver, have success simply because he's a great blocker and unselfish player that will help protect Budmayr and ultimately give him more time in the pocket.
UP NEXT: No. 23 on our countdown is one of several underclassmen looking to make his mark in the program. Having really only played special teams to this point, he has a legitimate chance to enter 2011 as a starter.