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April 20, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
MADISON - A player or two always emerges and catches the coaching staff's eyes during spring camp, and this year was no exception. Outside linebacker Joe Schobert took the coaching staff by surprise when they put him at outside linebacker, and he tallied a team-leading seven tackles and had one sack in their spring game on Saturday.
Head coach Gary Andersen said that Schobert would stick to outside linebacker after moving around between positions during the early stage of his career. Schobert was initially asked to walk-on as a defensive back, but Andersen said playing on the edge is going to be Schobert's future home.
"I can't tell you if he's going to grow into being the field outside linebacker or the 'B' outside linebacker," Andersen said after Wisconsin's spring game. "He has a good talent, a nose for the football. [He's] a very smart young man and he's had a very solid spring. I'm very happy he's in this program."
Shelton working on special teams
True freshman cornerback Sojourn Shelton got most of his reps on the second team defense this spring, but the Wisconsin coaching staff seems to believe he can help the out on special teams. Shelton worked on returning punts and kickoffs during spring practices this season, and the 5-foot-9 Shelton said he was surprised to get that kind of work during his first semester with the team.
"That's kind of been a shock for me," Shelton said after the spring game. "I've just kind of got to try and stay on that momentum swing, and just try to see if I can get back there. I think I'll be back there sooner or later."
"In high school it was a lot different. In Florida we didn't have a lot of kickers who can actually kick it high and hang it up there. I was used to judging the ball when it hits the ground. Now I have to judge it in the sky and make good choices, because it is one of the hardest positions in college football."
Shelton also played well during the spring game, and nearly came down with an interception or two during the game. He still has a long way to go in terms of developing his body for Big Ten play, but his agility could give him a big boost when the Badgers start to set up their return game this fall. Jared Abbrederis, James White, and Melvin Gordon have all done special teams duty before, but the Badgers are naturally hesitant to put so many key offensive players back in the return game.
Badgers move into offseason
The Badgers have technically already had an 'offseason' this year following their loss to Stanford in the 2013 Rose Bowl Game. But the Badges are now entering a two to three week period where there will be very little official contact between the coaching staff and the players, who Andersen said need to focus on wrapping up their academic semesters the right way before they dive into their summer conditioning program.
"Coaches are gone, they're on the road back and forth. But we have to be able to lock our minds and say 'we're going to finish the semester the right way,'" Andersen said after the spring game.
The Badgers will also have to keep up their work in the weight room during their break between sessions, and Andersen said he and the strength and conditioning staff will meet together soon to figure out what the players need to focus on in their conditioning work.
"We won't just say 'Hey, take two or three weeks off,'" Andersen said. "We don't have the time to do that, so we'll get our lifting in."
The Badgers will also meet with Andersen for one-on-one exit interviews from spring camp, as a follow up to similar meetings the players have already had with their position coaches.
"That'll be good for me, because I know the faces and the names now," Andersen said.
For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.