MADISON - Using the 14 practices open to the media and conversations with coaches and players as the background, BadgerBlitz.com presents to you a fall camp edition of the popular in-season feature: The Hot 11.
The 1st installment of the 2011 season is based on momentum and individual play throughout camp. One bad practice won't necessarily move a player off, but it could cause a player to slide down the board as new players start to emerge.
Whittling the list of players down to 11 was incredibly difficult, that is why BadgerBlitz.com encourages everyone to head over to The Badgers' Den to offer their own opinions.
Cromartie entered camp as one of the players with plenty to prove. Now, with camp winding down, it's obvious Cromartie took a serious approach to camp. The fact that he's slashed with Devin Smith for a starting cornerback spot doesn't say as much about the way Smith has played as much as it speaks to the improvement Cromartie has made. He's been very sharp all camp.
Though Taylor missed three practices midway through camp it has still been very obvious how much of an impact the junior linebacker makes for a defense in desperate need of some playmakers. During last week's scrimmage he logged at least five tackles-for-loss and was in on many more tackles. If he can stay healthy, along with Borland, UW's linebackers will be explosive.
When you're a wide-eyed freshman trying to find your way into the two-deep you have to do nothing but consistently perform at a high level. Gordon, as camp progressed, proved he was capable of that. He's an explosive runner that has the chance of making a big play each and every time he touches the ball. He's making decisions tough for his coaches, and that is exactly what he set out to do.
Wilson became a part of the UW program less than two months ago and has already been named a captain entering the 2011 season. Considering the lofty amount of hype and expectations surrounding his arrival it was tough to see any way he'd live up them. But he has.
The biggest concern surrounding Montee Ball was whether he would be able to maintain his powerful running style after having lost 20 pounds during the off-season. Well, he has. And he's added a good amount of speed and quickness to his repertoire as well.
When Borland was finally cleared to participate in full contact drills midway through camp the defense instantly became better. It was remarkable how much an explosive football player helps make players around him better.
White, like Ball, reshaped his body since UW's Rose Bowl loss to TCU. He's thicker up top and his legs are stronger than every before. He's still maintained his quickness and immaculate field vision. He's still the same big-play threat every time he touches the ball.
There were times a season ago when it seemed as though Pedersen was on the verge of breaking out and becoming a household name. It didn't quite happen then, but it will happen this year. He's been dynamic as a pass catcher throughout fall camp.
Nzegwu has to become a legitimate pass-rushing threat this season for the Badger defense. He doesn't have to be quite as explosive as J.J. Watt was, but anything he can provide would be helpful. It seems as though he's motivated and capable of having a big year. He made strides throughout fall camp, he just needs to get better at shedding blocks against the run.
Fredrick came into the program as an athlete. Some thought he would be better suited to play on the defensive side of the ball, but after watching him make plays as a wide receiver it's become evident that he will make the most impact there. He's played at a high enough level to have a shot at breaking into the rotation.
Less than a year ago Oglesby was in the midst of his sixth major knee operation. The fact that he's still playing football is impressive. The fact that he's played at a high enough level throughout camp to earn the No. 1 right tackle spot is amazing.