The last remaining hurdle standing in the way of Quintez Cephus getting on the field this season for Wisconsin Football has been cleared.
If someone had told me just a few months ago that Quintez Cephus would be catching passes for the Badgers in 2019, I would have said they were nuts. In fact, I probably would have said that even if they insisted he would be playing for Wisconsin at all in the future. Well, it’s safe to say this situation has not turned out at all as I expected.
Acquitted of the very serious charges against him by a jury of his peers? Check.
Re-admitted to UW-Madison? Check (and much more quickly than most anticipated).
Welcomed back onto the team after foregoing the understandable alternative of transferring elsewhere for a fresh start? Check.
On Friday, the one last thing standing in the way of Cephus’ return to the field this season was resolved, as he announced that the NCAA has declared him academically eligible to suit up for Wisconsin effective immediately.
Now that Cephus has officially put all of this behind him and is poised to resume his football career, the only question remaining is when he will be sufficiently up to speed to play in a game for the Badgers.
Physically, by all accounts, he appears to be in as good of shape as we have ever seen him after spending much of the last year training diligently at a facility in Phoenix. At this point, it’s mainly just a matter of how quickly Cephus can get back into the swing of things in terms of the nuances of Wisconsin’s offense. He began practicing with the team again earlier this week, but it could take him a good few weeks to get up to speed enough for the coaching staff to feel comfortable inserting him back into the two-deep ahead of players who have spent all of Wisconsin’s spring and fall practices cementing their roles.
Luckily, the Badgers don’t have to rush to get Cephus back on the field sooner than he’s ready given the depth they have at receiver. Wisconsin obviously has three studs in A.J. Taylor, Danny Davis, and Kendric Pryor, and three more nice weapons behind that trio with Jack Dunn, Adam Krumholz, and Aron Cruickshank. Cephus is undoubtedly a game-changing talent, but that group of six players should be more than sufficient for the Badgers to find success through the air until he returns.
I wouldn’t expect for Cephus to play against South Florida a week from now, and unless he’s unquestionably completely up to speed, he shouldn’t play against a weak opponent in Central Michigan in Week 2, either. The Badgers have a bye week after they play the Chippewas before hosting Michigan the following week, a matchup in which a player like Cephus’ presence on the outside could certainly play a big role in deciding the outcome.
If I’m Paul Chryst, that’s game I’m targeting right now for Cephus’ return to game action.