Most Important Badgers No. 7: Kenzel Doe
JUN 12, 2014 10:30a ET
Wisconsin Badgers beat writer Jesse Temple will be analyzing the 25 most important players to the Badgers' success in the 2014 season. Check back each weekday to see the latest player on the list. You can find every report here.
Note: This is not a list of the team's 25 best players or a series about past success, but rather which of them means the most to how Wisconsin will fare this year. Criteria such as depth at that player's position, general expectations and overall importance of that player having a good season are all highly considered. The list does not include incoming freshmen because their potential impact is unknown at this time.
No. 7 -- Kenzel Doe, wide receiver/return man
Why he's No. 7
Doe's production as a receiver the past few seasons might not warrant a spot this high on the list, but with Jared Abbrederis gone, someone has to catch passes from Wisconsin's quarterbacks, and Doe is determined for it to be him. Throw in his skills as a return man -- anyone remember his 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against South Carolina last season or his 82-yard punt return for a score against Utah State in 2012? -- and he's one of the most important players on the team this year.
Expectations for 2014
For starters, Doe's numbers as a receiver have to improve. He is only 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds and has been relegated to duties as a slot man, but that shouldn't be an excuse. Michigan's Jeremy Gallon ranked second in the Big Ten a year ago with 89 catches for 1,373 yards. He stood all of 5-8 and weighed 184 pounds.
Some might have lost faith in Doe as a viable option in the passing game, but he remains steadfast in his belief that he can still be the team's No. 1 receiver.
"I tell Coach each and every time, I want to be No. 1," Doe said after the team's spring game. "I'm not going to settle for No. 2 or No. 3 just because I'm the slot. I'm small. I don't really care about that. I'm going to go out there and compete. I'm going to be on the outside, be on the inside. Come fall, I'm going to make the plays and if he wants to go with saying I'm the No. 1 receiver, then that's what it's going to be."
Doe demonstrated some of his capabilities during the team's spring game on April 12 when he caught a diving 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner McEvoy against cornerback Devin Gaulden. In his career, Doe has 25 catches for 182 yards but has never caught a touchdown pass.
"Kenzel made a pretty damn good play diving for it," McEvoy said. "He had good position on the receiver. I just threw it up and let him go get it. Pretty easy when they do that kind of stuff. That was a great play."
If Wisconsin is to play up to its potential, Doe will need to catch more passes. A year ago, his statistics took a dip, in part, because he missed two games with an injury. He finished the season with just seven catches for 57 yards. As a sophomore one year earlier, he caught 16 passes for 121 yards.
What would they do without him?
At receiver, Wisconsin could survive without Doe because the team still has Jordan Fredrick, Alex Erickson, Rob Wheelwright and a host of incoming freshmen. But the team will be a lot better with Doe in the mix because he adds a speedy dimension to the rotation.
Where Doe really has shined is as a return man. Doe finished the season tied for the Big Ten lead in kick return average at 26.5 yards per return, aided by his 91-yard touchdown in the Capital One Bowl. He's handled 30 career kickoffs and averages 25.5 yards per return. Doe also has fielded 25 punts for 9.1 yards per return and will be the go-to player on returns in 2014.
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