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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

7 Badgers included in football preseason watchlists

Several Badgers have been given preseason praise so far, including returning and incoming players.

After finishing the 2022 season with a 7-6 record, the Wisconsin football program is entering a new era under new Head Coach Luke Fickell. 

Ranked No. 19 in the preseason AP poll, the Badgers begin the 2023 season with a talented roster and high hopes for a successful season.  

Several Badgers are included in preseason award watch lists:  

Braelon Allen – Doak Walker Watchlist 

The Doak Walker Watchlist monitors top running backs in college football. Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen was included on the list. 

Allen enters his junior season with significant expectations on the heels of an impressive first two years in Madison. The 6-foot-2 running back rushed for 1,242 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore campaign. Allen figures to be an important contributor for the Badgers offense in 2023. 

Chez Mellusi – Doak Walker Watch List  

Senior running back Chez Mellusi also makes an appearance on the Doak Walker Watch list. 

Mellusi carved out a role for himself in 2022 as a solid backup. The former Clemson standout ran for 815 yards and five touchdowns in his second season as a Badger. Now, Mellusi will look to end his college career on a high note alongside Allen in the backfield.  

Maema Njongmeta – Butkus Award Watchlist  

On the list for potential top linebacker in college football is Badgers linebacker Maema Njongmeta.

After redshirting his freshman season and playing sparingly over the next two years, Njongmeta made a tangible impact for the Badgers in 2022. Playing in 13 games, the linebacker recorded 95 total tackles alongside 3.5 sacks. Under Mike Tressel’s defense, Njongmeta is poised to play a pivotal role in the 2023 season.  

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Tanner Mordecai – Maxwell Award Watchlist 

Potential Badgers star quarterback Tanner Mordercai stands out as someone to watch for the most outstanding player in college football.

After stints at Oklahoma and SMU, Mordecai finds himself at UW-Madison. The excitement surrounding the quarterback’s potential is palpable. The senior QB threw for 3,524 yards and 33 touchdowns at SMU in 2022. Mordecai — now recognized as one of the top QB’s in the nation — will look to bring a dynamic element to Wisconsin’s offense by leading Phil Longo’s new Air Raid offense.  

Chimere Dike – Paul Hornung Award Watchlist  

Badgers wide receiver Chimere Dike has potential to top the list for most versatile player in college football.

Dike establishing himself as a reliable target in 2022 with 47 passes caught for 689 yards. Now entering his senior season, the former Waukesha North High School standout will look to make an impact for the Badgers as a consistent playmaker in a receiver room revamped with transfers.  

Nathanial Vakos – Lou Groza Award Watchlist 

One of the more significant additions to Wisconsin’s roster in the offseason was Nathanial Vakos, who is on the lookout for top placekicker in college football. 

The Ohio University transfer is regarded as one of the best placekickers in the nation. Vakos converted on 19 out of his 23 field goal attempts in 2022, including a long of 55 yards. Vakos’ big leg is expected to be a powerful weapon for the Badgers in 2023.   

Peter Bowden – Patrick Mannelly Award Watchlist  

Preseason analysts are watching out for Badgers long snapper Peter Bowden to win the award for college football’s top long snapper.

Now with several years under his belt in Madison, Bowden is recognized as one of the nation’s best long snappers. Bowden played in 13 games last year and was a pillar for Wisconsin’s special teams unit.

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