As we head into July and voluntary workouts continue for Wisconsin, AllBadgers.com looks at a few potential key contributors on the football roster.
During these evaluations, we will hypothesize just exactly what a stellar, standard and subpar season could be for each individual player. On Friday heading into the Fourth of July weekend, let us dive into another position in the program where the team will need to replace some significant production from the 2019 season.
That would be at wide receiver, and as discussed on this site since the season ended (perhaps ad nauseam? *checks numerous articles about the subject*), Wisconsin will not have A.J. Taylor, Quintez Cephus or Aron Cruickshank in 2020. Taylor exhausted his eligibility after four seasons, Cephus declared early for the NFL Draft and is now a member of the Detroit Lions, and Cruickshank left the team and eventually landed at Rutgers.
Despite the loss in production, which between Cephus and Taylor is a combined 82 receptions and nine touchdowns from last year, the two-deep at the position could be slotted with seniors. Danny Davis, Kendric Pryor, Jack Dunn and Adam Krumholz all return and enter their final seasons in the program.
Let's look at Davis in particular, as the former four-star recruit has been a significant contributor during his time at Wisconsin. He enters next season with 96 career catches for 1,086 yards and 11 touchdown receptions. Each year, however, his yards per catch has decreased (from 16.1 as a freshman in 2017 to 8.3 in 2019).
That being said, he and the receiving group as a whole have a huge opportunity in front of them to emerge and keep the Wisconsin passing attack potent.
In this scenario, Davis rises up as either the leading receiver or second-leading receiver in the program (AllBadgers.com will look at possibilities for Pryor at some point in this series, and one cannot discount someone like tight end Jake Ferguson). His yards per reception increase to near his freshman average and asserts himself as one of the team's deep threats. He has shown the ability to reel in contested passes, and under the tutelage of new position coach Alvis Whitted, he takes it to another level to wrap up his time in Madison.
Last season, he became more of a threat on the ground when he ran the ball nine times for 110 yards with a touchdown. That continues in 2020 where he can be utilized in motion for jet sweeps and keeps defenses on their heels.
Looking at this potential timeline, he stands out as one of his top receiving targets for Wisconsin's quarterbacks. His yards per catch jump up back up to around 12 to 13 yards per catch while also being used here and there in the run game.
Production through UW's aerial attack as a whole also comes from Pryor, Dunn and/or Krumholz, tight end Ferguson and/or potentially some of the younger receivers like Taj Mustapha, A.J. Abbott or Stephan Bracey.
I know with the first three Badgers we have looked at, I have used this more as a team-based performance, but I will still hold true to that. In this imagined outlook, Davis improves his yards per catch average from 2019 and still holds strong as one of the top receivers on the team in reeling in between 30 to 40 throws. And yet, the passing attack does not jump back to over 200 yards per game as it did in 2019 and defenses stack up more players in the box to stack up against the run.
I'm really excited to see how Davis and the receiving group look when they get back on the field. There is talent in the room, and I am very intrigued about how Whitted can mold and mentor these particular Badgers next season.
Davis has shown to be a playmaker when called upon, and working more in the ground game has added an element to his abilities. It could be a big season for the Ohio native.