In just two days, the Wisconsin football team will take the field at Camp Randall Stadium for its annual Spring Game. Personally, I couldn’t be more excited.
Last year, the highlight of my spring semester was Curt Phillips’ dominating performance — the redshirt freshman completed 10 of 16 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns a year ago — which translated into his breakout year behind center. Or maybe not.
Nothing will compare to watching running back John Clay, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, stand on the sidelines as Montee Ball rips through the second team defensive line.
But the player I’m most looking forward to watching play this Saturday is sophomore wide receiver Kraig Appleton. After a decent freshman season, the native of East St. Louis, Ill., is poised to break out in his second year with senior Scott Tolzien behind center.
Appleton, the 6-foot-3, 202-pound receiver has the size, speed and athleticism to be a play-making threat for the Badgers in 2010. With Appleton starting opposite fan favorite Nick Toon, the UW passing game is set for perhaps its best season in recent history.
There’s no doubt in my mind Appleton will dominate the second team cornerbacks Saturday. Hell, if he were on the second team, he would dominate the first team.
He’s THAT good.
I couldn’t imagine anything stopping Appleton from grabbing 10 balls, for 200-plus yards and three touchdowns.
Appleton will even line up in the backfield, rushing for 200 yards on four carries and four touchdowns — from 30, 40, 60 and 70 yards respectively.
For the above reasons, Appleton is my choice for the 2010 Spring Game MVP.
Appleton came to Wisconsin ranked as the 19th-best receiver in the nation. As long as he stays out of trouble, Appleton could be the next great wideout in Badger history. Oh wait…
Well Jordan, that was demoralizing. I’ll raise you with a guy who could actually see the field — and then become de facto MVP by playing horribly: junior Nate Tice.
Wisconsin’s stable of quarterbacks took a hit when Curt Phillips — the only other guy with game experience besides starter Scott Tolzien — went down with a torn ACL in a spring scrimmage. That leaves Tolzien, redshirt freshman Jon Budmayr and Tice.
Now let’s imagine Tolzien gets hurt and is out for an extended period of time. Pray it doesn’t happen — pray like you pray there will be a job market by the time you graduate.
Budmayr has been getting more reps in spring practice, but we all know how in the end, age tends to outweigh performance when the UW coaching staff names a starting quarterback.
Tice could make himself MVP of the spring game simply by playing as poorly as anybody who ever took a snap under center has ever played.
Who knows how many reps he’ll get, but by throwing a pick on every pass he attempts and fumbling every ball he hands off, he could very well be the most important player on the field.
Budmayr has looked good in spring ball — enough that fellow Herald Sports editor Max Henson and I believe he’s the QB of the future here at UW.
But who knows? Maybe all that experience Tice has gotten being the guy relaying signals during practice will overrule Budmayr’s arm.
Tice can become MVP simply by playing in a decidedly un-MVP fashion. Chances are he won’t wow, which is exactly what he needs to do. Budmayr gets a chance to get mop-up duty this season — so long as Bret Bielema can’t trust Tice with anything more than holding water bottles.