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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Former walk-on Dunn stepping up with starters sidelined

Wisconsin’s wide receiver depth, viewed as a considerable strength following the group’s strong performance down the stretch in 2017, recently took a hit when starters Quintez Cephus and Danny Davis were implicated in reports of a sexual assault in the spring. In need of a boost in the passing game, the Badgers have turned to young players who otherwise may not have seen much time. In Friday’s victory over Western Kentucky, Jack Dunn was one of those players.

Dunn, a former walk-on, is a redshirt sophomore who starred at Madison’s Edgewood College, only a mile from Camp Randall Stadium. After playing in eight games in 2017, mostly on special teams, he appears poised to claim a larger role in the offense this season. In the victory over Western Kentucky, Dunn reeled in a 20-yard reception on a 3rd-and-long in the second quarter, helping to set up Kendric Pryor’s two-yard touchdown in the waning moments of the first half. He also served as the primary punt returner.

New Mexico’s defensive weaknesses will give Dunn the opportunity to make a splash in the second game of the season. Last year, the Lobos finished 3-9 and gave up nearly 32 points per game. That included 240 passing yards per contest and 28 total touchdowns through the air. They also gave up a healthy 10 yards per punt return. The defense experienced similar issues in their season opener on Saturday, giving up 30 points and 328 passing yards to FCS opponent Incarnate Word.

The Lobos defense will likely focus on stopping the run game while limiting the impact of Kendric Pryor, A.J. Taylor, tight end Jake Ferguson and the running backs in the passing game. This could leave opportunities for Dunn to expose openings in a run-of-the-mill secondary and provide an outlet for Alex Hornibrook under pressure.

The newfound opportunity and occasionally porous defense Dunn will face Saturday will give him the opportunity to continue to earn reps and prove that he deserves increased playing time, even when conference play begins and Danny Davis presumably returns. As a face of the next generation of Wisconsin wide receivers, Dunn will be a player to keep an eye on against New Mexico and throughout the season to come as defenses grapple with ways to slow down the balanced Badgers offense. 

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