Wisconsin Football: Three questions facing Jim Leonhard

PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 16: Ula Tolutau #5 of the BYU Cougars is tackled by Conor Sheehy #94 of the Wisconsin Badgers during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 16: Ula Tolutau #5 of the BYU Cougars is tackled by Conor Sheehy #94 of the Wisconsin Badgers during a game at LaVell Edwards Stadium on September 16, 2017 in Provo, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images) /
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Wisconsin Football - D'Cota Dixon
MADISON, WI – OCTOBER 15: D’Cota Dixon (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Who will contribute in the secondary alongside Dixon and Carriere-Williams?

With cornerbacks Derrick Tindal (graduation) and Nick Nelson (NFL Draft) as well as safety Natrell Jamerson (graduation/NFL Draft) gone, there will be plenty of new faces in the secondary.  It is safe to say that redshirt sophomore Dontye Carriere-Williams will be one of the starting corners.  Three others will be competing for playing time opposite Carriere-Williams.  The open safety position next to Dixon looks to be a two-man race going into the fall camp.  Leonhard has to make some critical personnel decisions at the position group he coaches.

Candidates

The void left behind by Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson at corner will be hard to replace.  Tindal was a solid performer and Nelson led the nation in pass breakups.  Madison Cone, Caesar Williams, and Faion Hicks will battle for the starting outside and nickel position.  Leonhard had plenty of positive things to say about all three players during the spring.  However, all three players have little to no playing experience in college.  Cone performed well during spring ball and seems to have the edge but it is not a done deal.  Williams is still pretty raw but may contain the most upside out of the three.  After a redshirt season last year, Hicks is continuing to develop as an athletic corner.

The battle at safety will most likely be contested between redshirt sophomore Patrick Johnson and redshirt freshman Scott Nelson.  Johnson filled in at safety adequately last year before suffering a season-ending arm injury.  Johnson has the physical tools to impact the game but will need to prove his durability to Leonhard.  Nelson proved to the Wisconsin coaching staff that he is ready to contribute this fall.  He has utilized all of his available resources by constantly picking the brain of Dixon and spending countless hours watching film.  The Co-Defensive Scout Team Player of the year could potentially be a four-year starter in Madison.

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Leonhard will most likely rely on both Johnson and Nelson to compliment Dixon on the back-end of the Wisconsin defense.