MADISON - As he stood on the sidelines watching all his former players workout, it dawned on Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema that he’ll have a lot of talent to replace moving into the 2012 season.
“I know last year when there were 14 (UW) rookies in NFL camp and this year we’ll probably have between 13 and 15 depending on free agency,” said Bielema. “The thing I am excited about is that we have a lot of really good players coming back at certain positions.”
One of those positions Bielema wasn’t referring to was at quarterback and what he wouldn’t give to have Russell Wilson back for another season. With Wilson completing deep passes in front of NFL scouts and Curt Phillips (knee) already planning to not compete competitively during spring, Bielema revealed Wednesday that redshirt junior Jon Budmayr is again experiencing problems in his throwing arm and likely will miss all of spring practice.
“Jon has encountered some other issues now that have come up that are probably going to restrict him from all of spring ball,” Bielema said. “We’re just trying to get Jon healthy overall before we can think of football.”
Budmayr, who will be a redshirt junior next season, missed all of last season because of nerve problems in his right arm that eventually caused him to have surgery. He had been throwing without pain the first two months of the season until this latest setback.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him,” said Bielema. “He is really going through a lot of (medical) appointments and meetings. Hopefully we’re going to get some answers soon … I don’t know if it’s career threatening, but it’s more of the same. They haven’t really gotten a handle on it.
“I think like anybody when you go to a doctor and expect to find and answer and it’s not there, it gets frustrating.”
When UW opens spring practice on March 22, Wisconsin will have only two healthy quarterbacks. Joe Brennan was the backup quarterback last season but completed only 6 of 15 passes for 48 yards and an interception. Joel Stave walked on to Wisconsin and redshirted last season.
Wisconsin survived through spring practice a year ago with only two healthy quarterbacks when Budmayr was out for extended time, and UW plans to do it again with Brennan and Stave getting most of the one-on-one attention from new offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
“I think those two quarterbacks will benefit a great deal, because they’ll get a lot of Matt’s attention,” said Bielema.”Curt will (also) do all passing situations and stuff that isn’t live he’ll be involved in pretty good.”
Bielema also said incoming freshman Bart Houston will undergo minor surgery on his right shoulder that will delay his start with Wisconsin.
“Due to a previous injury he’s got a cyst they’re going to remove from his shoulder,” said Bielema. “Nothing they’re overly concerned about but it will set him back as far as his timing to be with us 100 percent in the fall.”
Wilson Draws Rave Reviews
It was already going to be a good day for Wilson when he was measured in at 5-11 before UW’s Pro Day, a whopping 3/8th of an inch taller than he was at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.
“He had a nice growth spurt here over the last couple weeks,” said Bielema. “I know he was excited about that.”
With the biggest knock being his height, every inch counts but Wilson was nearly perfect going through his range and type of throws. Being worked out by Chris Weinke, the former NFL and Heisman Trophy winner who Wilson has been working with in Florida, Wilson said he completed 60 of 63 passes, including a number of long bombs.
“Chris is running drills and a couple of the scouts were making reference that after he hit two or three of those deep balls, they would have just stopped the workout,” said Bielema. “There’s no reason to prove anything else. I think (Russell) wants to get it out there that he is a very good, accurate passer in all phases.”
Wilson, like many of his other former teammates, have been getting complimented on their personal interviews with teams, which Bielema said has become a much bigger emphasis than when he began as a head coach seven years ago.
“I had so many guys tell me Russell might have been the best interview they’ve had at the combine in all positions,” Bielema said. “They obviously want good football players, but they want people that will practice, people that will be dedicated to how they do things in their respective programs and I think we have a good track record here.”
Aim for Three
After getting three linemen off the 2010 UW team drafted and seeing all three of them start as rookies, Bielema said he’s confident that Peter Konz and Kevin Zeitler will get drafted and that some team will give Josh Oglesby a chance to compete.
“From the feedback I am getting, he looks a little bit slimmer, tighter, trimmer and one scout said to me, ‘The one thing about Josh Oglesby is there not a lot of people like him on this earth,’” said Bielema. “There’s not many guys that big, that agile, that flexible and that much of a talented athlete that people will let him go.”
Oglesby battled through six knee surgeries throughout his tenure to earn consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection his senior year, was the winner of team's Wayne Souza Coaches Appreciation Award and played in 41 games (28 starts) during his tenure at Wisconsin.
“The wear and tear may take certain effects but I think Josh is committed to the fact that he would love to play football and make a living as a professional football player,” said Bielema. “Nothing is going to stop him from that.”
Extra Point: Bielema said he was surprised that Henry wasn’t invited to the NFL combine and that injuries early in the season may have hurt his rating … Bielema said the players have started becoming accustomed to the new coaches during station work where each assistant coach works on a station, ‘(The assistants) have to learn the team and let the kids get exposed to why they are a coach. All of the (assistants) have their brand of coaching that’s unique to them’ … Bielema said former Milton athlete Nate Hammon could play quarterback for UW if the Badgers were in an emergency situation.