UW players to watch in 2010

first_imgWithout a doubt, UW’s brightest star is tailback John Clay. He’s also one of their biggest. At over 250 pounds, the junior regularly plows through defenders, but maintains the breakaway ability to take it the distance on any given play. Clay earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors last season after compiling 1,517 yards and 18 touchdowns, and the spotlight will once again be focused on the bruising back. With all five starters on the offensive line returning and a wealth of experience under his belt, Clay should produce another tremendous season on the ground for the run-happy Badgers and perhaps earn an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation at season’s end.Scott Tolzien – Sr., quarterback, No. 16 With some newcomers debuting on the defensive line, UW is lucky to have J.J. Watt ready to lead the way. The overpowering defensive end is hard to miss – listed at 6-foot-6 and 285-pounds. However, the junior has quickness off the ball and brute strength, and he will be counted on to be a disruptive force on the line of scrimmage for the Badger defense after recording 15.5 tackles for loss in 2009. After that breakthrough season, look for Watt to wreak havoc in opponent’s backfields and make big plays week in and week out this fall.Chris Borland – Soph., linebacker, No. 44 When the UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst needs a big play through the air, he’ll look no further than No.1. Nick Toon has all the physical tools to be a dominant wideout – soft hands, a 6-foot 3 frame, terrific speed and the leaping ability to make jaw-dropping catches. Toon reeled in 54 catches for over 800 yards last season and the junior appears ready to burst onto the scene as one of the conference’s top receivers this fall.J.J. Watt – Jr., defensive end, No. 99 Running backs tend to get the headlines here in Madison, but a potent aerial attack should be in full force with returning starter Scott Tolzien under center. Tolzien was the surprise winner of the starting job last fall, but after breaking the UW record for completions in a season and leading the team to 10 wins, no one doubts Wisconsin’s signal caller. Tolzien shows toughness and grit, taking hits to complete clutch throws, but he struggled in big games, throwing costly picks against Ohio State and Iowa. It’s been years since UW had an established returning starter at the quarterback position and if Tolzien can cut down on the interceptions, he could produce one of the best seasons for a Badger QB in recent memory.Lance Kendricks – Sr., tight end, No. 84 Have you ever seen someone get hit so hard that the decal on the side of their helmet flew off? Badger fans have seen it with their own eyes thanks to the one and only Jay Valai. Standing at 5-foot-9 Valai is known as one of the Big Ten’s hardest hitters and opponents are always well aware of his presence on the field. The energetic, smack-talking Valai brings a lot of personality and physicality to the UW secondary. And he’ll be the first to tell you.center_img You never know what kind of production you’re going to get from a true freshman, but it didn’t take long for the UW coaches to realize they had something special in Chris Borland. After posting 54 tackles, 5 sacks, and forcing and recovering three fumbles, Borland was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year. The multi-talented Borland was a sparkplug on defense, but he also returned six kickoffs and even hit three extra points when UW had some kicking issues in its game against Hawaii. Not bad for a freshman.Jay Valai – Sr., safety, No. 2 Any program that has Big Ten title aspirations needs star power. And entering the 2010-2011 season, it’s safe to say Bret Bielema and the Wisconsin Badgers have plenty of it.UW has tremendous depth and experience returning this fall, but there is a select group of Badgers that will be counted on to deliver in big ways.Here is a rundown of the seven Badgers you must know before entering the gates of Camp Randall Stadium.John Clay – Jr., running back, No. 32 The Badgers churn out NFL-caliber tight ends on a regular basis, and Lance Kendricks is next in line. A converted wide receiver, Kendricks has tremendous athleticism and reliable hands that make him a nightmare for opposing defenses. And after years in the UW program, the senior has developed into a physical blocker. Having recorded over 100 yards receiving in last season’s Champs Sports Bowl victory over Miami, Kendricks is primed for a big season as UW’s go-to target on third downs and in the red zone.Nick Toon, Jr., wide receiver, No.1last_img

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