Wisconsin Badgers 2010s all-decade team: Offense

QUARTERBACK

Russell Wilson

Wilson only played one season at Wisconsin, but it was dominant that no other quarterback comes even close to being named here. In 2011, Wilson completed 72.8% of his passes for 3,185 yards with 33 touchdowns and only four interceptions, good for a passer rating 0f 191.8. He also rushed for 338 yards with six TDs and, oh what the heck, had three receptions for 56 yards and a TD.

 

RUNNING BACK

Melvin Gordon

This is arguably the toughest position to settle on just one player. After all, there’s Jonathan Taylor with his 6,174 rushing yards and 50 touchdowns and Montee Ball with his 4,749 yards and 73 TDs. Then why Gordon? He did the most with the least. Gordon did play in more games than Ball and Taylor, but he had much fewer carries – 631 (Ball had 826, Taylor 926) – and still managed 4,915 yards and 45 TDs. Gordon’s 7.8-yard rushing average is insane – it’s more than a full yard better than Taylor (6.7). You certainly could make a case for another back (others might have arguments for Corey Clement or James White. We’re going Gordon, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

 

FULLBACK

Bradie Ewing

At Wisconsin, there’s a plethora of players you could slot in at this position, including Alec Ingold, Austin Ramesh and Derek Watt. All those three were multi-dimensional running backs – they’d block, could tote the ball if needed and could come out of the backfield to catch passes. Ewing was more of a traditional fullback – solid granite, moving bodies out of the way for the running back. But he also had nimble hands – he had 20 targets in 2011 and caught all 20. In 2020 he had 11 touches with three touchdowns – not Ingold territory, but pretty good. Ewing was such a good fullback that he was selected in the fifth round of the NFL draft. Only one fullback has been drafted higher than his No. 157 overall since.

 

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WIDE RECEIVERS

Jared Abbrederis and Alex Erickson

Abbrederis was a fairly easy choice – he’s the only Badgers receiver to have over 2,000 yards in the decade. He finished with 3,140 yards on 202 catches with 23 touchdowns, all of which were the best in the 2010s for Wisconsin. A no-brainer addition. We chose Erickson over the likes of Quintez Cephus and Nick Toon not only because of his numbers – Erickson’s 143 catches for 1,877 yards were second only to Abbrederis in the decade – but also because in 2014-15 he was putting up those numbers despite Wisconsin not having many other options in the receiving game. He had more than double the catches and yards of the next-leading Badgers receiver in both those seasons. It’s not easy to put up the numbers Erickson did (especially at 6-feet and under 200 pounds) with a target always on your back.

 

TIGHT END

Troy Fumagalli

This was a bit of a coin flip between Fumagalli and Jacob Pedesen, the latter of whom had 104 catches for 1,394 yards and 17 touchdowns (only Abbrederis had more receiving TDs in the decade). But Pedersen never had more than 39 catches in season. Fumagalli topped 40 twice and also had 1,127 receiving yards combined in his final two years. Overall he recorded 135 receptions for 1,627 yards and seven TDs. At 6-6, 248, he also could also block with efficiency when called upon.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

LT: Ryan Ramzcyk

LG: Michael Deiter

C: Travis Frederick

RG: Kevin Zeitler

RT: Rob Havenstein

Unlike every other position on offense and defense, statistics aren’t available publicly for collegiate offensive linemen. So, this grouping is largely based on the eyeball test as well as reputation and NFL draft standing. We’ve also kept players at their actual positions. Deiter moved around a bit, but left guard was mostly his home. Frederick also played guard but was such a standout at center in his final year at Wisconsin it seemed appropriate to put him there. Ramzcyk falls under the Wilson category of only one year, however the feeling here is he was such a stud at the position he deserves the nod. It’s hard to imagine a guard as solid as Zeitler. Right tackle was a bit tougher, but Havenstein edged out Josh Oglseby for more consistency over time.

 

KICKER

Rafael Gaglianone

While he turned out to be a bit inconsistent during his time at Wisconsin, Gaglianone did make 75.6% of his field-goal attempts – only Philip Welch was also above 70% (78.6%), but he had just 28 attempts in the decade. Gaglianone made three field goals of 50+ yards, tied for most in UW history, and also is credited with four game-winning kicks – no one Backers kicker has more. Finally, he missed only two extra-point attempts and both came during his freshman year.

 

KICK RETURNER

Aron Cruickshank

This might sting a little since Cruickshank has since left Wisconsin for Rutgers, but Cruickshank had 49 returns (only Kenzel Doe had more with 58) and averaged 24.6 yards (only Jared Abbrederis did better, with a 25.8-yard average on 31 returns). Oh, and he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns (Wisconsin had five total in the 2010s).