In the days leading up to the start of the University of Wisconsin’s spring football practice on March 12, State Journal beat reporter Jason Galloway will preview each of UW’s position groups. Today, in Part 2 of an 11-part series, he breaks down the Badgers’ safeties.
With three starters leaving and a new position coach in Jim Leonhard, the Badgers’ secondary may look more different than any other spot on the field for UW.
At safety, three-year starter and team captain Michael Caputo ended a successful career, while the Badgers also lose the size and range of Tanner McEvoy — another valuable piece to UW’s top-ranked scoring defense last season.
Aside from quarterback, the final line of the Badgers’ defense will be one of the most talked-about position groups throughout this offseason.
It’s impossible to know exactly who the UW coaching staff believes will take over for Caputo and McEvoy at the moment, and it’s a decision that likely won’t be made until August.
Based on playing time last season, one could guess that junior D’Cota Dixon and fifth-year senior Leo Musso have a good shot, although former Madison Memorial standout Joe Ferguson saw more of a role than Musso late in the season.
The coaching staff has high hopes for sophomore Arrington Farrar, and with a good offseason he could see himself in the starting lineup against LSU.
Fans also shouldn’t forget about Lubern Figaro. He was buried on the depth chart last year after starting seven games at safety alongside Caputo during his true freshman season, and he’ll enter spring ball wanting to prove himself under a new defensive coordinator and position coach.
Along with the names mentioned above, there are a few true freshmen who will join the team in the fall ready to prove they deserve immediate playing time.
Before former UW defensive backs coach Daronte Jones left for the Miami Dolphins last month, he said he believed Eric Burrell and Patrick Johnson, both three-star prospects out of Maryland, could have an opportunity to not redshirt and contribute during their first year on campus.
Another incoming freshman, Seth Currens, will attempt to compete right away as well.
NAME TO WATCH
Many fans may not be familiar with redshirt sophomore Evan Bondoc, but don’t be surprised if he rises up the depth chart between now and August.
The walk-on out of Madison Edgewood impressed on reserve units during spring and fall camps last year and even led all players with 12 tackles in last year’s spring game.
UW has plenty of able bodies at safety, but the Badgers will need two of them to emerge as players who can be trusted as every-down starters at the position.