We are still four months away from Wisconsin’s 2014 college football season kickoff against LSU. Although, it’s never too early for Badgers fans to look ahead at what promises to be an incredibly exciting season in Madison.
Players such as running back Melvin Gordon III and cornerback Sojourn Shelton are expected to have huge impacts for the Wisconsin football team in 2014. But other Badgers are going to have to step up if they want to get back to the Rose Bowl — or perhaps into the 4-team college football playoff.
Without further ado, here are 5 players who will break out and have major impacts on Wisconsin’s 2014 season and championship hopes:
Robert Wheelwright: Sophomore WR, 6-foot-2, 198 lbs.
It is no secret that Wisconsin lost one of it’s premier players to graduation in Jared Abbrederis. He’s a lock to be drafted later this week. But the Badgers are glaringly shallow at the wide receiver position. Wheelwright is going to change that. Along with senior Kenzel Doe, Wheelwright will be one of Wisconsin’s top offensive targets. He possesses good size and is known as a quality student in the classroom. Wheelwright was highly-touted out of high school and this will be his first real chance to make an impact for the Badgers. He will, in all likelihood, be the Badgers’ go-to possession receiver. Keep an eye on him Badgers fans, he will not disappoint.
Leon Jacobs: Sophomore OLB, 6-foot-2, 225 lbs.
The sophomore linebacker is as impressive of an atheletic-speciman that Wisconsin has on its roster. He is an example of the type of the ideal defender that Gary Andersen will continue to recruit. He’s fast and able to run down running quarterbacks. His elite speed complements his adequately-sized frame. Look for him to seamlessly take over from the graduated Ethan Armstrong at the OLB spot. Jacobs can go from sideline to sideline and will be depended on heavily in Wisconsin’s 3-4 style defense. Look for Jacobs to make his impact known early on in the season based on his athletic ability alone. Not to mention, he only began playing football late in high school; so his instincts are obviously strong. As the season rolls on and his ensuing experience meshes with his natural ability — look out Big Ten offenses.
Sam Arneson: Senior TE, 6-foot-4, 254 lbs.
Arneson is next in line as a quality Wisconsin tight end to graduate from Wisconsin. He’s patiently waited his turn for the spotlight and as a senior; his time has come. Although, he has been ridiculously efficient when he has sporadically touched the ball in his career. Arneson has four touchdowns on only 10 career receptions. Now that he’ll be the featured tight end, lets hope that ratio holds up. Ok, maybe it’ll dip a little. He carries his weight really well and has shown flashes of great hands in his limited opportunities in Madison. At the end of the year Arneson will be known as the next link in the chain of quality Wisconsin tight ends. That chain includes Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum, Lance Kendricks, Garrett Graham and Jacob Pederson.
James Adeyanju (uh-DAY-on-joo): Redshirt Junior DE, 6-foot-2, 265 lbs.
This product of Chicago has also been waiting his turn in Madison. And like Arneson, his time to shine is 2014. Adeyanju is an athletic specimen capable of making plays with his feet, despite his formidable size. He had offers from some of the best programs in the country out of high school and has put on ample muscle since coming to Madison. Wisconsin’s defensive line was devastated by graduation, losing Beau Allen and Pat Muldoon. Adeyanju has never been needed more than he will be in the upcoming season. Of course, he plays more of a defensive end roll. Even so, his contribution to stopping the run will be invaluable. But do not be surprised is he ends up pressing opposing quarterbacks with regularity in 2014.
Marcus Trotter: Redshirt Senior ILB, 6-foot-0, 233 lbs.
It’s time to accept the fact that Chris Borland is gone Badgers fans. That’s right, one of the all-time fan favorites has left campus for the NFL. But fret not, Trotter is ready to fill the void. When Borland was injured last year it was Trotter who came in and continually made big plays. He calmed the defense down and showed poise out on the field. And now, after a summer of being a bonafide leader, Trotter will command the respect of all who watch him play on Saturdays. His size isn’t quite ideal but either was Borland’s. This is his final year in Madison and you can bet he’s ready to show what kind of player he is capable of being. Especially now that he has a chance to start, look for his consistency out on the field to be great. Remember his name Badgers fans, you’re going to hear it a lot in 2014.