The Badgers wide receivers corps will have a new look heading into the 2022 season. Kendric Pryor, Danny Davis, and Jack Dunn have all moved on. Pryor and Davis combined for 64 catches for 894 yards and five touchdowns. Devin Chandler, A.J. Abbott, and Isaac Smith have all entered the transfer portal. All of the Badgers’ returning receivers will have bigger roles than they had last season.

After spending the past two seasons as a slot receiver; Chimere Dike is now the number one wide receiver. Coming into his junior year, Dike has a lot to prove. The past two seasons he’s flashed his ability to make big plays. His big third down converting catch in the Las Vegas Bowl is ultimately won the game for the Badgers. However, Dike needs to get into the endzone more. He’s only scored two touchdowns in two seasons as a Badger. Wisconsin had lots of problems finding the endzone and they don’t need any other hindrances making the issue worse.

Markus Allen will have a much bigger role in the Badgers offense this season. He became a pleasant surprise towards the end of last season. Allen didn’t see any game action until towards the end of the Badgers game against Rutgers. In that game, he would get a carry and catch two passes for 34 yards. Similar to many freshmen who come to Wisconsin, Allen spent most of the season developing and learning the Wisconsin offense. After the Rutgers game, he was active from then on.

Allen really flashed his potential in the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona State. Early in the game, he caught a big 31-yard pass to convert a third down. This would set up the Badgers’ first touchdown of the game. While he only caught one pass, Markus Allen was able to show his big-play ability. However, Allen is unproven as a starter and still needs to prove that he can be a dependable starter. Mertz also has only had a limited amount of experience with Allen making chemistry development important as well.

With all the depth the Badgers lost at the receiver position; Wisconsin dipped into the transfer portal and picked up Keontez Lewis from UCLA. Like Markus Allen, Lewis is an unproven talent and he also didn’t register a catch during his one year at UCLA. He’ll also need to learn the Badger playbook and develop chemistry with Graham Mertz quickly. However, Lewis brings promise as he was the fourth highest-graded receiver commit of the Bruins’ past three recruiting cycles.

Switching over from the defensive side of the football is Dean Engram. After spending the past three seasons as a cornerback. Engram played wide receiver in high school and the transition from cornerback isn’t difficult. With Engram now in the mix at receiver, he gives the Wisconsin offense a new element. I have a feeling that there will be specific packages for him to maximize the speed he has in space.

Last season, Skyler Bell was an afterthought in the Badgers offense and didn’t appear in a regular-season game. This is typical of most freshmen that just enter the program. However, when the Badgers became shorthanded at wide receiver in the Las Vegas Bowl; Bell was pressed into service. In that game, he caught a pass for 15 yards.

Heading into the season, Bell is another receiver with a lot to prove. While playing a game with Mertz helps; he still needs to get on a consistent level with him and earn his trust. We only have a small sample of what he can do and it remains to be seen what his ceiling will be.

Stephen Bracey comes back for his junior season. After spending most of last season injured, we finally saw him return a kick for a touchdown against Nebraska. While he has some playing experience as a receiver, I don’t think he’ll have a big role on offense. Bracey will primarily be a kickoff return man this season. However, he will have an opportunity to compete for playing time at wide receiver in camp.

Also coming back at wide receiver are Haakon Anderson, Mike Gregoire, Alex Moeller, and Jordan Dibenedetto. None of them have registered any major statistics in their careers. While there will competition for playing time at receiver, I don’t see any of them being a real factor.

With the graduations and transfers of multiple wide receivers; the Badgers were busy recruiting receivers. In total, the Badgers convinced three receivers to sign their letter of intent. They were Vinny Anthony, Christopher Brooks, and Tommy McIntosh. All of them were three-star recruits according to 247sports.com. While there will be plenty of competition for playing time a wide receiver; I believe all three of them will redshirt this season.

Heading into the spring, the receivers group has the most questions. Lots of young players will be in critical roles this season. Competition in camp for playing time will be intense in both the spring and summer.

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Eric Katz

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