Fall camp is underway and for once the running-back room for the Wisconsin football team is one that has questions surrounding the group. Paul Chryst and company aren’t without options, there are plenty of young, talented running backs waiting for their chance to prove themselves on the roster. Usually, these things have a way of sorting themselves out, but thus far in camp, this is where things stand in the running back room – sorted by tiers.
Tier 1: The bell cows
1A – Jalen Berger
1B – Chez Mellusi
Jalen Berger and Chez Mellusi are head and shoulders above the field as things currently stand, putting them in a tier of their own. Wisconsin is going to do what they’ve always done, pound the rock. I would expect Berger to get the most carries, but not by a wide margin. Mellusi is going to get an ample amount of work and be a contributor in this offense. Both players are incredibly talented and should help return the Wisconsin run game to what we’ve grown accustomed to. My bold prediction is that both running backs amass 1,000 yards of total offense.
Tier 2: In the mix
Theoretically, these two are the next in line for carries in the Badgers stable. Isaac Guerendo is someone the coaching staff is high on and believe can offer something on the field with his game-breaking speed. Health has obviously been an obstacle to this point, but a full off-season of work should put him in the mix to get some change of pace carries spelling Berger/Mellusi.
Brady Schipper has made a name for himself as a walk-on but isn’t ideally someone that should receive meaningful carries in the Big Ten. Schipper finds himself here on the depth chart in large part because of injuries in the spring (that led to him getting a ton of work)– coupled with a ton of unproven young tailbacks on the depth chart. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in him holding this spot in the pecking order – one of the younger unproven backs is bound to separate themselves from the pack and work their way into the discussion.
Tier 3: Outside looking in
I put true freshman Braelon Allen in a tier of his own because I think his skill-set offers something totally unique. There is no other running back on the roster that offers the strength and size that he does. Allen could be an absolute battering ram and short-yardage weapon for the Badgers if he can get up to speed quick enough.
This could be a longshot given how new he is to the position, but the talent is undeniable. The Badgers are likely going to rely heavily on two running backs, but have always preferred to have three that can play any given Saturday. He has a long way to go in separating himself from the rest of the unproven members of the backfield, but his unique traits and god-given ability may just present him with the chance to get on the field. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Allen move up the totem pole over a player like Schipper as the season progresses, if not sooner.
Tier 4: Everyone else
Then there’s the rest of the running back room. This isn’t to say this group won’t churn out any contributors this season, it’s just going to take someone setting themselves apart. The coaching staff will have their work cut out for them evaluating this young crop of prospects. Ideally, you’d like to see someone show consistent flashes and earn more opportunities. The Wisconsin football team has a lot of young backs on the roster but has a long way to go establishing depth they’re comfortable with putting on the field.