You know the kickoff to college football is just around the corner when preseason All-Conference and All-America teams start surfacing. One of the most well-respected names in college football is Phil Steele and he recently released his preseason All-Big Ten team that sees eight Wisconsin Badgers on the list, headlined by none other than running back and Heisman Trophy contender Melvin Gordon.
Big shock here as Gordon is a first-team All-Big Ten selection. There’s no doubting that he is one of the most explosive and entertaining running backs in the country this year. The Big Ten knows all too well the name of Melvin Gordon as most of the country does as well. He ran for 1,609 yards and 12 touchdowns all while sharing time in the backfield with current New England Patriots back James White. This year Gordon looks to take the bulk of the carries.
Joining Gordon on the first-team is right guard Kyle Costigan and right tackle Rob Havenstein. A starter in 12 of the 13 games last season, Costigan is a veteran on the offensive line and an important part in opening holes for Gordon. Costigan was named to the preseason second-team All-Big Ten team a year ago and will look to have another big year opening holes for the running game and protecting whoever is under center this year.
Havenstein is another key part to the Badgers offensive line and a big reason why the running backs from a year ago were so successful. The redshirt senior finds himself as a fourth-team All-America selection as well heading into the season. One of the most experienced linemen Wisconsin has, Havenstein will be looked on as one of the leader’s on offense.
The third and fourth teams on offense also include Wisconsin’s Tyler Marz and Dan Voltz, respectively. Marz is a redshirt junior who started in all 13 games last year while being named a consensus All-Big Ten Honorable Mention selection. Marz is very important in keeping either Tanner McEvoy or Joel Stave off their back this season. Voltz is a redshirt sophomore who has landed on the watch list for the Rimington Trophy. He started in six of the 11 games he played in a year ago. In my opinion he’s poised to have a good season this year.
On the defensive side of the ball, no Badger landed on the first or second team’s. But the third team has ILB Derek Landisch and CB Sojourn Shelton. Landisch played in 10 games last season, starting three of those, and recorded 33 tackles and one sack. With Chris Borland off to the NFL, Landisch is one of the players looked upon to step up production this season. Shelton is a true sophomore who had a productive freshman year, recording 30 tackles and four interceptions. He’s going to have to grow up and develop quickly as a lot of weapons are gone from last year’s defense.
Rounding out Wisconsin’s selections in Phil Steele’s preseason All-Big Ten team is safety Michael Caputo. Second on the team in total tackles (63) to Borland a year ago, Caputo is another player that must step up to fill the void of the players who are now gone from a year ago. Look for Caputo to have a big impact for this defense as the year goes on.
There you have it, eight Badgers that Phil Steele has given All-Big Ten honors to. All eight very well deserving and who should have a big year for head coach Gary Andersen.