July 28, 2006

Fall camp preview: Running backs

MADISON, Wis. - Today, BadgerBlitz.com continues looking at the Wisconsin Badgers football team position-by-position heading into fall camp. The Badgers report to camp on Aug. 6.

In this edition of the fall preview series we feature the running backs, a group consisting of six unproven backs all competing for the starting nod.

What the Badgers are trying to replace in 2006 is load of talent in last season's team MVP Brian Calhoun, who departed for the NFL Draft after defeating No. 7 Auburn in the Capital One Bowl. Calhoun, now with the Detroit Lions, rushed for 1,636 yards and 22 touchdowns during his only season in Madison, not to mention his 53 receptions for 571 yards and two touchdowns, making him the ultimate all-purpose weapon in the Badgers' offense.

From what is known of the six backs vying to replace Calhoun this fall, they aren't capable of replacing the one-year wonder, at least not right away. During spring practice there was talk of using running backs by committee. But it seems the sextet is aiming to seperate with one of them becoming the Badgers' featured back. It's almost certain the coaches would like a clear No. 1 to emerge before the season kicks off instead of going to the bullpen on certain downs and situations.

Going into fall camp, this site can predict the battle at running back will certainly be interesting. Here's a look at the six RB's below (in alphabetical order not by depth).

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Fall 2006 Running Backs
Year Player The Word Height/Weight
Redshirt Freshman Jerry Butler Butler is the fastest of all the running backs, if not the fastest player on the team, but he lacks size to consistently get his jersey dirty up the middle. It's not just speed in Butler's legs as he also has very quick feet, which allows him to make people miss. If Butler can get an edge around the corners he's a candidate to be a home-run hitter nearly every time because the defense will not catch him. During spring practice, Butler usually took repetitions as the fourth-string running back. He probably doesn't have the attributes to be a featured back in the Badgers' offense, but he's a situational weapon and could be used in a thunder and lighning scenario with the other larger backs on the roster.

5-9, 183
Redshirt Freshman Dion Foster Foster has a stout figure, but has decent speed for a scrunched individual. In high school, Foster used his build playing a power game to run over opponents. He quickly found out that his size didn't translate as well to the college game so he's improved his speed and is working on running around opponents. Another part of Foster's game that has improved is his maturity. In the spring, he admitted to feeling homesick throughout the season and that his attitude towards school and football weren't the greatest during the fall. Foster played as the fifth back in the spring and he will probably return to that position when camp opens.

5-8, 219