There was a major hole in the wide receiver position when seniors Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis III were injured last season. Enter Jack Dunn, who may not have added much statistically but helped change the narrative of what it means to contribute to the University of Wisconsin football team.
Dunn served as the Badgers’ main punt returner and had a blocking role in the second unit for most of his career. That was his expected role last season. Dunn instead filled the void created by the absence of Davis and Pryor.
The Madison native has posted career highs in catches and yards the past two games.
“We were in a tight pinch last season,” wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted said. “He stepped up and showed that he can be the guy and be a leader just by doing what he normally does. He didn’t have to do anything special.”
He entered last season with six receptions — a number that grew significantly with the increased playing time. He averaged 9.1 yards on 28 receptions last season.
Dunn’s role is going to change again with Davis and Pryor healthy again. He likely won’t be a starting wide receiver, but Badgers coach Paul Chryst expects Dunn to accept his new role.
“They also need to know that them doing their part may not lead to a direct stat but it could,” Chryst said. “If we can have that truly be the fabric of this team then I think we have a chance to be the best team we can be.”
Check out the State Journal's coverage of Wisconsin Badgers spring football practices
Stories, videos and podcasts covered all the action and news from UW football spring practices.
Badgers’ head coach Paul Chryst on Monday shared eagerness both for his new group of coaches and for returning to the practice field with his players.
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"I love this group of kids and I want to continue to develop them. And with COVID being the way it was last year, I’d have felt a specific way about myself having left after that season," Leonhard said.
UW quarterbacks say Badgers head coach Paul Chryst's conversational approach is deepening their understanding of system.
State Journal beat reporters Colten Bartholomew, Todd Milewski and Jim Polzin get together over Zoom for a special episode dedicated to the impending retirement of University of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez.
After a bicep tear ended his 2020 season early, UW senior defensive end Matt Henningsen is making his voice heard on and off the field.
Once it was over, Graham Mertz took time to reflect after his first college football season as a starter.
"For Wisconsin football and Wisconsin athletics in general, he's put the ‘W’ on the map.”
“Every time you get to your senior year, you kind of feel a responsibility that it’s kind of your time to take over the reins,” Logan Bruss said.
State Journal beat reporters Colten Bartholomew and Jim Polzin get together over Zoom and discuss Barry Alvarez’s retirement ceremony, the search for the Badgers’ next AD and UW’s spring football practices.
“Man, Witt’s a dog,” sophomore Nick Herbig said. “He doesn't always get his job done in the prettiest way, but he gets his job done. No matter what, he’s scrapping, clawing, he's fighting every rep."
“You want the ability for a lot of guys to get reps. And the first thing to go is the number of reps when you don't have (healthy players), or those guys that need the reps aren't practicing," UW coach Paul Chryst said.
“What I do is special, whether it's in the NFL or college or wherever, every day is a gift and every day is special," Badgers RB coach Gary Brown told reporters.
At UW’s second open practice of the spring on Tuesday, a handful of young players showed promise and might be carving out paths to playing time.
Making headway and earning reps at inside linebacker for the loaded Badgers is a difficult task, but sophomore Tatum Grass was able to do that last season despite being a redshirt freshman walk-on and still new to the position.
Following a COVID-19 diagnosis, sophomore linebacker Maema Njongmeta's cardiac testing revealed an effusion.
Jake Ferguson breaks down why he returned to Wisconsin, the dynamics of the tight end meeting room, what he makes fun of coach Mickey Turner about, how veterans get through spring practices.
Improvements as a blocker and his first big play in college have junior tight end Jack Eschenbach ready for a breakout 2021 season.
Chimere Dike showed big-play ability, tight ends were all over the field and Leo Chenal shined at the Badgers' ninth spring practice.
Dean Engram and Alexander Smith have earned most of their playing time the past three seasons on special teams units.
“He told us that he wanted corners that played with a dog mentality. He just want dogs out there on the island," Badgers junior Alexander Smith said of new cornerbacks coach Hank Poteat.
The Badgers passing offense could be "explosive" if UW's top wide receivers can stay healthy this season.
State Journal beat reporters Colten Bartholomew and Jim Polzin get together over Zoom for a special episode of the show: UW senior cornerbacks Faion Hicks and Caesar Williams enter the Red Zone!
The offense lacked same crispness it has had in other practice sessions.
"The age of football that we're in with all the spread, all the RPO, you can create some issues," Jim Leonhard said of using his safeties at different positions.
Defenders and ball-carriers weren’t shy about laying a solid hit on a teammate during 11-on-11 portions of Tuesday's spring practice.