The Wisconsin football team lost another offensive player this week when receiver Devin Chandler entered his name into the transfer portal. He’s the fourth player to enter the portal this year, following running backs Loyal Crawford, Antione Roberts, and Jalen Berger.
Chandler’s decision was a little more out of the blue than the three running backs, who we could all see coming after two of the three were dismissed from the team and the other was suspended indefinitely.
The running back room is looking pretty thin right now, but luckily Chez Melusi and Brealon Allen will be able to hold the position down for the foreseeable future. Add in a player like Jaydn Ott, and that position will be just fine.
The receiver room, on the other hand, could look very different by the beginning of the 2022 season. Seniors Danny Davis III, Kendric Pryor, and Jack Dunn all came back for another (final) season in Madison, so they will be gone next year. With Davis, Pryor, Dunn, and Chandler all leaving, that leaves the Badgers really with just Chimere Dike as the lone receiver who has really gotten any snaps at all this season. A.J. Abbott has one catch this year for seven yards, coming in the Eastern Michigan game.
A lot of playmakers are going to be leaving after the 2021 season, so the Wisconsin football team is going to have to lean on Dike next year while some of the younger players get their feet wet. Here’s who could step up and be a big part of the offense outside of Dike beyond this year.
Abbot is probably going to be one of the older players in the room next year. He will be a senior in 2022 and up to this point has played in just 15 games in three years, mostly on special teams. He has three career catches for 19 yards.
He has been buried on the depth chart, but when players like Jack Dunn are getting more reps than he is at receiver, it doesn’t give me the most confidence that he will step up and produce next year. I think he’ll get some snaps next season because he has been around the system for three years, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up getting passed up for some of the younger guys in 2022.
Markus Allen is a true freshman for Wisconsin this year as a part of that stacked 2021 recruiting class. He was a 3-star receiver out of Clayton, Ohio, and was committed to Michigan for a few months before decommitting and eventually coming to Wisconsin.
A quick scouting report for 247Sports’ Allen Trieu:
"Good overall size and length. Solid bulk and build to him already in high school. Will be a big, physical college receiver. Smooth and has good ball skills. Tracks it well in the air and will use his size to go up and win contested passes. Will adjust well to passes and shows good body control. No verified speed as far as a laser time or a track time. Can still get more straight-line explosive. Projects safely as a red-zone guy and productive short to intermediate receiver. Upside is higher especially if he is able to get to another gear top-end wise."
I’m sure Allen is going to be a big part of the offense next year and beyond, but then again, with the way the offense is going this year, he may not get the opportunity.
Skyler Bell is another part of the 2021 recruiting class. Bell was also a 3-star receiver and is out of Watertown, Connecticut. Bell committed to the Wisconsin football team over Iowa.
Bell was 6-1 coming out of high school, ran a 4.4, and is very athletic. I could see him playing the Kendric Pryor role. If Chryst would ever get back into the jet sweeps, I think Bell would do well in that role, especially now that Devin Chandler is gone.
Like Bell, Vinny Anthony is a smaller receiver, but a playmaker. He also would be a good player to just get the ball in his hands. End around and jet sweeps would play right into what he excels at.
He is 6-1 and 170 pounds, so he has to get a little bit bigger, but I think his athleticism is the kind that is hard to keep off the field.
Tommy McIntosh is a part of the current 2022 recruiting class. At 6-5 and 203 pounds, I think he could end up at tight end, but the receiver position might be a little thinner heading into next season, so I could see the coaches starting him off at receiver.
Like Anthony, McIntosh could see the field early out of necessity. Here is what Trieu had to say about McIntosh:
"Plays wide receiver and safety in high school. Some schools wanted to grow him into a tight end, others liked him as a big receiver. Has straight line speed and can get deep. Tracks the ball well, has reliable hands. Competitive, plays hard and is physical. Can work his agility and short-area quicks to match his straight-line ability. Whether it is more as a receiver or tight end, he projects as a guy who can move around a formation and stand up in the slot or play out wide and can be a red-zone weapon also."
I think we are looking at a relatively young and inexperienced group for next season. It doesn’t help that tight end Jake Ferguson will also be gone after this year. Mertz is going to have his work cut out for him in the passing game next year. With teams likely focusing on Chimere Dike next year, some of these younger players are going to need to step up.