Cruickshank having best season for Badgers kick returner in over 40 years

Aron Cruickshank's kick return touchdown propels him in Wisconsin annals in the latest Young Badgers Tracker.

A couple of weeks ago in the Young Badgers Tracker we observed “With the Badgers perhaps looking for a little spark, maybe [Aron] Cruickshank is the player to do it.”

Against Nebraska, Cruickshank did indeed supply Wisconsin with a little boost. His 89-yard kick return for a touchdown in the first quarter tied the game at 7 and put some juice into the Badgers, who would eventually win 37-21.

It was the first kick return for a TD for Wisconsin since Natrell Jamerson did it against Maryland on Nov. 7, 2015 and just the fifth since 2000. Cruickshank finished with three returns for 133 yards.

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Cruickshank now is averaging 28.4 yards per his 15 returns. Quite simply, if he can keep up that average it will be one of the top kick return seasons for Wisconsin in over 40 years.

Wisconsin uses a minimum of 10 returns to qualify among its single-season leaders. Since 2000, the Badgers have had only two players average better than 25 yards per return who had at least 10 kick returns: Kenzel Doe (26.5 on 20 returns in 2013) and Brandon Williams (28.0 on 22 returns in 2005).

The only UW returners who had a better average than Cruickshank in that span are Jared Abbrederis (37.0 on three returns in 2010) and Lee Evans (one return for 34 yards in 2000).

Cruickshank is currently tied for third on Wisconsin’s single-season kick return average list (again, min. 10 returns). The top three all occurred in the 1970s – Ira Matthews, 29.6 in 1976; Danny Crooks, 29.3 in 1970 and Greg Johnson, 28.4 in 1971.

For what it’s worth, only two players have more than one kick return for a TD in Wisconsin history: Matthews in 1976 and Nick Davis in 1999 each had two. Cruickshank has a few games left to try and tie that record.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after 10 games:

“TRUE” FRESHMEN
Keeanu Benton, NT
South Florida: 2 tackles (solo), TFL
Central Michigan: Started, 1 tackle (solo), TFL
Michigan: Started, 1 tackle, QBH
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Started, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo), sack, TFL
Iowa: Started. 2 tackles (2 solo), QBH
Nebraska: Started, 1 tackle
Season totals: 10 tackles (6 solo), sack, 3 TFL, 2 QBH

 

Clay Cundiff, TE
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Leo Chenal, LB
South Florida: 5 tackles (3 solo)
Central Michigan: 4 tackles (4 solo)
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: 3 tackles (3 solo), sack, TFL, FR
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: 1 tackle (solo)
Iowa: 1 tackle (solo), TFL, QBH
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 14 tackles (12 solo), sack, 2 TFL, FR

 

Quan Easterling, FB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Semar Melvin, CB
South Florida: 1 tackle (solo)
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: 1 tackle
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: 2 tackles (solo)

 

Graham Mertz, QB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: 4-of-5 passing, 35 yards
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: 5-of-5 passing, 38 yards; 2 rush, 6 yards
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: 9-of-10 passing, 73 yards; 2 rush, 6 yards

 

Badgers all-time databases

Have not played
Peter Bowden, LS; Stephan Bracey, WR; Logan Brown, OL; Dante Caputo, S; Julius Davis, RB; Jordan DiBenedetto, WR; Dean Engram, CB; Tatum Grass, LB; Rodas Johnson, DE; Jackson Kollath, LB; Spencer Lytle, LB; Cooper Nelson, QR; Maema Njongmeta, LB; Logan O’Brien, OL; Gio Paez, NT; Cam Phillips, WR; Hayden Rucci, TE; Joe Tippmann, OL; Titus Toler, LB; Blake Wilcox, K; James Williams, CB.

 

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN
A.J. Abbott, WR
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo)

 

Donte Burton, CB
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan: PBU
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan State: Started, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Started, PBU
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 PBU

 

Boyd Dietzen, DE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Jack Eschenbach, TE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Jaylan Franklin, OLB
South Florida: 1 tackle (solo), sack, TFL
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: 1 tackle (solo)
Season totals: 2 tackles (2 solo), sack, TFL

 

Michael Furtney, OL
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

C.J. Goetz, DE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Isaac Guerendo, RB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Andrew Lyons, OL
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Isaiah Mullens, DE
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Taj Mustapha, WR
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Reggie Pearson, S
South Florida: Started, 1 tackle (solo), FF
Central Michigan: Started, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo), .5 TFL, FF
Northwestern: 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Kent State: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo)
Michigan State: Started, 4 tackles (3 solo)
Illinois: Started, 5 tackles (4 solo), 2 TFL, 3 PBU
Ohio State: Started, 5 tackles (3 solo)
Iowa: Started, 2 tackles (1 solo)
Nebraska: Started, 10 tackles (8 solo)
Season stats: 34 tackles (26 solo), 2 FF, 4 PBU, 2.5 TFL

 

Cormac Sampson, OL/TE
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Brady Schipper, RB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 6 rush, 21 yards
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: 6 rush, 21 yards

 

Alexander Smith, CB
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Northwestern: 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Kent State: 2 tackles (2 solo)
Michigan State: 1 tackle (solo)
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: Blocked punt
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season stats: 4 tackles (4 solo), PBU, Blk

 

Marty Strey, OLB
South Florida: Did not play
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Jack Torchio, S
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: INT, PBU
Northwestern: Started, 1 tackle (solo)
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: 1 tackle (solo)
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season stats: 2 tackles (2 solo), INT, PBU

 

Nakia Watson, RB
South Florida: 14 rush, 80 yards, TD
Central Michigan: 8 rush, 29 yards, TD; 1 catch, 0 yards
Michigan: 13 rush, 31 yards
Northwestern: 1 rush, 1 yard; 1 tackle
Kent State: 12 rush, 63 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards
Michigan State: 5 rush, 34 yards
Illinois: 2 rush, 9 yards
Ohio State: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: 6 rush, 32 yards
Nebraska: 8 rush, 36 yards
Season stats: 69 rush, 315 yards (4.57 average), 2 TD; 2 catches, 6 yards

 

Chase Wolf, QB
South Florida: Played, did not record a statistic
Central Michigan: 1-for-1 passing, 2 yards
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Did not play
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Ohio State: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Season stats: 1-for-1 passing, 2 yards


Have not played
Travian Blaylock, CB; Mike Gregoire, WR; Jacob Heyroth, ILB; Conor Schlichting, P.

 

“TRUE” SOPHOMORES

John Chenal, FB
South Florida: 1 rush, 2 yards; 1 catch, 12 yards; 1 tackle (solo), FF
Central Michigan: 3 rush, 11 yards; 1 catch, 2 yards
Michigan: 2 rush, 5 yards, TD
Northwestern: Played, did not record a statistic
Kent State: 4 rush, 24 yards
Michigan State: Started, 4 rush, 17 yards; 1 catch, 1 yard
Illinois: 3 rush, 3 yards
Ohio State: Started, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 17 rush, 62 yards (3.6 average), 2 TD; 2 catches, 3 yards, 1 tackle (solo), FF

 

Aron Cruickshank, WR
South Florida: 1 kick return, 23 yards
Central Michigan: 1 catch, 19 yards; 2 punt returns, 14 yards
Michigan: 1 kick return, 11 yards
Northwestern: 2 kick returns, 69 yards
Kent State: 2 rush, 6 yards; 2 catches, 10 yards
Michigan State: 2 rush, 28 yards; 1 kick return, 38 yards
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Ohio State: 2 rush, 28 yards; 4 kick returns, 83 yards
Iowa: 3 kick returns, 69 yards
Nebraska: 2 rush, 13 yards; 3 kick returns, 133 yards
Season totals: 8 rush, 75 yards; 2 catches, 10 yards; 15 kick returns, 426 yards (28.4 average); 2 punt returns, 14 yards

 

Jack Sanborn, LB
South Florida: Started, 5 tackles (2 solo)
Central Michigan: Started, 1 tackle, INT, QBH
Michigan: Started, 7 tackles (5 solo), 2 TFL, sack, FF
Northwestern: Started, 13 tackles (7 solo), TFL, PBU
Kent State: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 sacks, 2 TFL
Michigan State: Started, 5 tackles (3 solo), TFL
Illinois: Started, 7 tackles (4 solo). .5 TFL. QBH
Ohio State: Started, 6 tackles (4 solo)
Iowa: Started, 6 tackles (6 solo)
Nebraska: Started, 3 tackles (1 solo), INT
Season totals: 55 tackles (34 solo), 3 sacks, 6.5 TFL, 2 INT, 2 QBH, PBU, FF

 

Rachad Wildgoose, CB
South Florida: 2 tackles (solo)
Central Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: PBU
Northwestern: 3 tackles (3 solo), 2 TFL
Kent State: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo)
Michigan State: Started, INT
Illinois: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo)
Ohio State: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Iowa: 2 PBU
Nebraska: Started, 4 tackles (2 solo), TFL
Season totals: 15 tackles (11 solo), 3 TFL, 3 PBU, INT

 

Bryson Williams, NT
South Florida: 1 tackle (solo)
Central Michigan: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Northwestern: Did not play
Kent State: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan State: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: 4 tackles (1 solo)
Ohio State: 1 tackle
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Did not play
Season totals: 6 tackles (2 solo)

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns