Badgers didn’t take advantage of freshman redshirt rule

Last year, the NCAA instituted a new rule which allowed freshmen to play in four games and retain their redshirt.

Wisconsin took full advantage.

In 2018, Wisconsin had 30 “true” freshmen. Of those, 13 saw action (of the 17 who did not one, Mason Platter, missed the season due to injury). And of those 13, eight played in four or fewer games, thus allowing them to preserve their redshirt for the 2019 season. Those eight were CB Travian Blaylock, CB Donte Burton, WR Isaac Guerendo, WR Taj Mustapha, S Reggie Pearson, TE Cormac Sampson, WR Brady Schipper (he was moved to RB this year) and CB Alexander Smith.

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Those eight players combined to appear in 23 games, with Blaylock, Burton and Mustapha playing in the maximum four games allowed and Guerendo, Pearson and Smith three apiece.

That of course means five played in more than five games (FB John Chenal, WR Aron Cruickshank, ILB Jack Sanborn, NT Bryson Williams and CB Rachad Wildgoose).

In 2019, though, Wisconsin used just six of 27 “true” freshmen. Of those, only two – NT Keeanu Benton and LB Leo Chenal – have lost their redshirt status by playing in more than four games. But the other four combined to appear in only seven games.

Cornerback Semar Melvin played in three of those — with Wildgoose hurt, Melvin got the start against Minnesota and after giving up a long touchdown on the game’s second play acquitted himself well. Wildgoose’s health could factor in to him playing against Ohio State but with a bowl game weeks away figure him to retain his redshirt.

The other three freshmen who played this year were TE Clay Cundiff (one game), fullback Quan Easterling (one game) and quarterback Graham Mertz (two games).

You can see the list below of the rest of the freshmen who didn’t play. Some might not have been ready, others perhaps rehabbing injuries suffered in high school or the offseason, yet there were at least two – LB Maema Njongmeta and NT Gio Paez – who at times dressed on gameday.

Maybe some of these freshmen will get time in Wisconsin’s bowl game. Or maybe not. Either way, it seems like the Badgers didn’t take full advantage of the redshirt rule in 2019.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after the 12-game regular season:

“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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 1 tackle
Season totals: 11 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Minnesota: 1 tackle (solo)
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Purdue: 1 tackle
Season totals: 16 tackles (13 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: Started, 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Season totals: 3 tackles (2 solo), PBU

 

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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: Did not play
Season totals: 9-of-10 passing, 73 yards; 2 rush, 6 yards

 

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.

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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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: 1 tackle (solo)
Minnesota: Did not play
Season totals: 3 tackles (3 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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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)
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: Played, did not record a statistic
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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: Did not play
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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 1 kick return, 49 yards; 1 tackle (solo)
Season totals: 1 kick return, 49 yards; 1 tackle (solo)

 

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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 1 tackle
Season totals: 1 tackle

 

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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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)
Purdue: Started, 6 tackles (4 solo)
Minnesota: Started, 7 tackles (2 solo), TFL
Season stats: 47 tackles (32 solo), 2 FF, 4 PBU, 3.5 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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Played, did not record a statistic
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Minnesota: Did not play
Season stats: 3 tackles (3 solo), INT, 2 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
Purdue: 1 rush, 6 yards
Minnesota: 4 rush, 10 yards; 1 catch, -3 yards
Season stats: 74 rush, 331 yards (4.47 average), 2 TD; 3 catches, 3 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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
Purdue: 1 kick return, 15 yards
Minnesota: 1 rush, 3 yards; 1 tackle
Season totals: 18 rush, 65 yards (3.6 average), 2 TD; 2 catches, 3 yards, 2 tackles (1 solo), FF; 1 kick return, 15 yards

 

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
Purdue: 3 rush, 47 yards, TD
Minnesota: 1 rush, -1 yards; 2 kick returns, 26 yards
Season totals: 12 rush, 121 yards, TD; 2 catches, 10 yards; 17 kick returns, 452 yards (26.6 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
Purdue: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo)
Minnesota: Started, 6 tackles (5 solo), 1.5 TFL, sack, PBU
Season totals: 61 tackles (39 solo), 4 sacks, 8 TFL, 2 INT, 2 QBH, 2 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
Purdue: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo), 2 PBU
Minnesota: Did not play
Season totals: 17 tackles (13 solo), 3 TFL, 5 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
Purdue: Did not play
Minnesota: 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