Walk-On Specialist Blake Wilcox No Longer with Wisconsin Football Program
On May 26, a UW official confirmed to AllBadgers.com that kicker Blake Wilcox is no longer with the Wisconsin football program.
The official did not state why Wilcox was no longer on the team that day, though AllBadgers.com did not ask the university to confirm that detail.
WisSports.net's Travis Wilson first reported on May 24 that it "seems" that Wilcox—who walked on to the team as part of the 2019 class—"was not extended a roster spot at Wisconsin after his frosh year there." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Jeff Potrykus also reported that the in-state product was "not expected to return."
AllBadgers.com reached out to Wilcox for comment. As he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal last week, the program's executive director of football administration, Eric Johnson, notified him via phone call on May 15 that he would not have a spot on the 2020 Wisconsin roster. The Kettle Moraine, Wis., native said he was not given a reason as to why.
As previously reported by Potrykus and Bartholomew, Wilcox confirmed he took a leave from the team. He told AllBadgers.com that it started two weeks into the spring semester, around late January or early February, and returned to his dorm thereafter about two weeks before the university's spring break. He estimated he was away for two-to-three weeks overall.
According to Wilcox, he started participating in winter conditioning but did not return to that after taking the leave. He stayed in contact with the specialists position group but did not kick with them upon returning because they were only doing so once or twice a week. As he also told the Wisconsin State Journal, he would also send in film.
When asked, Wilcox said he had texts saying he was excited to come back, but he stated he never said “I am coming back" to the program. The former walk-on said it was implied when he said he was working hard and keeping good grades and that he was excited to come back.
Wilcox believes that Wisconsin was under the impression that he had no intentions of coming back.
"I think there was a miscommunication somewhere along the lines because I was communicating with my teammates, and my coaches, the academic staff, just people who were a part of the program and talking about how I was excited to come back and whatnot," Wilcox told AllBadgers.com on May 26.
A UW official told AllBadgers.com on Monday that they do not have any further comment.
In the 2020 Wisconsin spring football roster that was released in March, Wilcox was listed as a kicker before those practices were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kettle Moraine (Wisc.) product that he believed he would have competed for the punter spot, something that has been noted by multiple reports.
Wilcox did not play last season in his first year in the program. He came to Madison as a five-star kicker (No. 5 in the nation) and punter (No. 4) by Kohl's Kicking for the class of 2019. He also claimed honors as a 2019 Under Armour All-American Game selection and 2018 first-team all-state player at both positions by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and Associated Press.
Both of last year's punters in the two-deep, Anthony Lotti and Connor Allen, exhausted their eligibility after the 2019 season. Conor Schlichting and Division III transfer Andy Vujnovich were also listed on UW's spring roster at that position group, while Wilcox, Collin Larsh and Joe Stoll were designated as kickers.
Jack Van Dyke (Neenah, Wis.) signed in February as part of the 2020 class as a kicker, while punter Gavin Meyers (Oshkosh, Wis.) orally committed earlier this year. Both are walk-ons.
As Wilcox also told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week, he stated he is still invested in UW academically—noting he earned two As and two ABs during the spring semester—and socially with friends.
He also said he was going to put his name in the transfer portal, which was later reported by 247Sports's Evan Flood on May 28. However, that does not mean the Wisconsin native was going to transfer. Rather, he said he wanted to look at his options. He said that if he transferred, it would feel like starting over as a freshman, and transition is difficult.
“If there was a program that had those good programs, I guess, then I would absolutely pursue it and probably take a visit and would by all means transfer, but UW is a great school," Wilcox said. "I have nothing bad to say about UW Athletics. Everyone treated me well, and it's just an unfortunate scenario.”
He believes it was a missed opportunity, but he stated there are a couple of paths one can take in this situation.
“To me, there's two ways that you can look at this scenario," Wilcox said, "You can kind of complain about it and put your head down and say, ‘Poor me,’ or you can let it motivate you and work even harder and just get back to your roots and being who you are as an athlete and as a person. Then just getting past it and becoming a stronger person on the back end.”
AllBadgers.com has updated the article as needed as of May 28.