No decision yet for Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ

Ethan Happ still hasn’t made a decision on whether to keep his name in for the 2018 NBA Draft or to return to Wisconsin for his senior year.

Speaking following a workout with the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, Happ told reporters he’s still got at least one more workout before next week’s deadline.

“I have Golden State coming up,” said Happ, according to the Detroit News. “Then I might fit a team in on the 29th or might just call it and start making a decision whether to [withdraw] or keep my name in the draft.”

Happ has until May 30 to make that decision. Because he hasn’t hired an agent, he’s eligible to come back to Madison for his final year.

Right after the season, Happ said he’d have to be a first-round pick to keep his name in, though he’s wavered a bit on that, telling the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jim Polzin that he’d have a tough decision to make if he was told he’d be an early second-round pick. Based on most mock drafts, that doesn’t appear likely.

Still, when asked Thursday about going back to school, Happ maintained that it’s still up in the air considering where some of the team’s he’s worked out with, including the Pistons, sit in the second round.

“Detroit’s got a great pick (No. 42 overall). I thought I had a good workout. There’s obviously a lot of other good candidates,” Happ said. “There are no guarantees, obviously, in this draft business, but I definitely am keeping the option open of going back to school.”

Early college football lines have Wisconsin as an underdog

Wisconsin was a favorite in every regular season game it played last season on the way to a 12-0 record. If the Badgers are going to duplicate that mark, they are likely going to have to pull a few upsets.

The South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas released point spreads for a number of the biggest games of the year in college football and four of Wisconsin’s contests were listed.

The Badgers have owned the Big Ten West for much of its four-year existence, winning it three times. Most expect them to do it again in 2018, so it should be no surprise they are 5-point favorites at Iowa on Sept. 22 and 17-point favorites over Nebraska on Oct. 6.

The games where they could be an underdog come later, starting with a trip to Michigan on Oct. 13. The Wolverines are listed as 3-point favorites in that matchup. About a month later, Wisconsin travels to Penn State and South Point has the Nittany Lions as 4.5-point favorites.

Wisconsin is 3-4 as an underdog during coach Paul Chryst’s three years.

Wisconsin to play home-and-home series vs Pittsburgh

Wisconsin has added another power conference team to its future schedule.

The school announced Thursday morning it had agreed to a home-and-home series with Pittsburgh. The first game will be played at Camp Randall Stadium in 2026 and the second game will be played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2027.

The Panthers are 3-0 against the Badgers, but the two sides haven’t played since 1967 when Pittsburgh won 13-11 in Madison.

Current Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst started his head coaching career at Pittsburgh in 2012, going 19-19 in three seasons before coming back to the Badgers. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph, quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr, tight ends coach Mickey Turner, running backs coach John Settle and defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield were all a part of Chryst’s staff in some capacity in Pittsburgh.

With the addition of the Panthers, here’s a look at Wisconsin’s future matchups with Power 5 schools:

2020: Notre Dame (Green Bay)
2021: Notre Dame (Chicago)
2022: Washington State
2023: @ Washington State
2024: Virginia Tech
2025: @ Virginia Tech
2026: Pittsburgh
2027: @ Pittsburgh
2029: @ UCLA
2030: UCLA

Wisconsin loses another commitment in 2019 class

For the second time in the last two weeks, Wisconsin has lost a commitment in the Class of 2019.

Early Wednesday evening, 3-star wide receiver Nolan Groulx announced on Twitter that he had de-committed from the Badgers.

“I would like to thank Coach (Ted) Gilmore, Coach (Paul) Chryst and Coach Saeed (Khalif) for all they have done for me,” Groulx wrote in the tweet. “I wish all the other commits that I have built a relationship with the best of luck. At this time I am going to de-commit from the University of Wisconsin and open my recruitment back up.”

The Cornelius, N.C., native initially committed to the Badgers last June over offers from Duke, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and others.

Groulx’s decision comes in the wake of safety Bryson Shaw doing the same thing. He announced his decision April 28 and immediately committed to Ohio State. It leaves the Badgers’ class at seven members.

If there is one group that can handle a de-commitment it is wide receiver. The Badgers will have 10 scholarship players at the position this fall and only two are upperclassmen.

Barry Alvarez on national title talk: ‘I think it’s healthy.’

Barry Alvarez rarely talked about national championships when he was the head coach at Wisconsin. On occasion, during his 16 seasons leading the program, he was asked whether winning a national title was a goal, and he largely brushed it aside. His philosophy was if you win the Big Ten, then you’ll be in position to play for more at the end of the year.

The landscape has changed significantly since Alvarez was the full-time coach, with the move to a playoff system in 2014. Still, with a large number of current players stating this spring that their goals included making the college football playoff and winning a national title, it made sense to see how Alvarez, now the athletic director at Wisconsin, views their comments.

“I think it’s healthy,” Alvarez said Monday. “Our guys aren’t backing away from it. They went in last year with high expectations and lived up to them. They were one possession away from playing in the [playoff]. They’ve got a good nucleus coming back — a very good nucleus. [They’ve got] some of the best players in the country at their positions.

“I think they understand how you have to work in the offseason and how you have to come together as a team. All of that comes into play. It’s not just having good guys. There are some other things you have to do to become a good team.”

Wisconsin returns 10 of the 11 players that started on offense in the Orange Bowl and have All-Big Ten players such as linebacker T.J. Edwards and safety D’Cota Dixon returning on defense. It’s led many to put the Badgers very high in their way-too-early Top 25 rankings, including USA Today having them at No. 3.

“The fact they think [they can win a national title], that’s great. I think it’s awesome,” Alvarez said. “I think they have a chance to be a really good team.”

Joe Ferguson tryout with the Packers

Former Badgers safety Joe Ferguson, Alvarez’s grandson, got the opportunity to tryout with the Green Bay Packers during their rookie orientation camp on Friday and Saturday. A backup for much of his career at Wisconsin, Ferguson played well last fall when injuries cropped up in the secondary. He tied for the team lead in interceptions (4) and returned one of them for a touchdown.

It was a year that made the possibility of a professional career something to think about for Ferguson and his family.

“Joe came to me and said he wasn’t finished and that he wanted to continue playing if he could. I gave him my blessing,” Alvarez said. “If he wants to take a look and see how he matches up, [that’s great]. If something works out for him, I’d be thrilled for him.”

Tryout players weren’t made available to the media, but, according to Alvarez, Ferguson felt good about what he was able to accomplish during the two days of practice.

“He thought he did pretty well,” Alvarez said. “He got a lot positive comments during practice. He picked up the defense quickly. He didn’t make any huge plays but was never out of position.”

Alvarez said that Ferguson has another tryout scheduled with the Indianapolis Colts when they hold their rookie camp later this week.

Bucky on Parade

Monday was the start of Bucky on Parade, an art event that will see 85 Bucky Badger statues placed throughout Madison and Dane County over the next four months. All of them will have a different theme. The one at Camp Randall Stadium is called “Bucky Alvarez,” and it’s dressed like Alvarez – headset, sunglasses, sweater vest and khakis.

“Yeah, that’s a game day outfit,” Alvarez said when asked if he liked it. “Absolutely.”

All the proceeds from the event will benefit local charities, including basketball coach Greg Gard’s initiative, “Garding Against Cancer.”

“I think the project is good,” Alvarez said. “It’s for a good cause, and you can have a little fun with it at the same time. It’s very positive.”

Greg Gard on ‘The Joe and Ebo Show’

Wisconsin basketball coach Greg Gard joined The Joe and Ebo Show on Wednesday morning to talk about his 2nd Annual Garding Against Cancer Signature Event that will be held this Saturday, junior Ethan Happ going through the NBA draft process, the recovery of freshman guard Brad Davison from shoulder surgery and optimism about the team heading into next season.

For more information about the signature event, visit the Garding Against Cancer website.

Plenty of Wisconsin flavor in 2019 mock drafts

The 2018 NFL Draft is in the books, so many have turned their attention to 2019. That includes the folks that put together mock drafts. And based on a few we’ve looked at, there appears to be a lot of respect for the talent on Wisconsin’s roster for this upcoming season.

Here’s a taste of where some publications have current Badgers going next April:

RG Beau Benzschawel
CBSSports.com: No. 19 (first round)
Houston Chronicle: No. 20 (first round)
The Sporting News: No. 13 (first round)
Land of 10: No. 12 (first round)

RT David Edwards
CBSSports.com: No. 16 (first round)
SB Nation: No. 8 (first round)
Houston Chronicle: No. 22 (first round)
The Sporting News: No. 25 (first round)
Land of 10: No. 32 (first round)
WalterFootball.com: No. 20 (first round)

OL Michael Deiter
CBSSports.com: No. 27 (first round)
Bleacher Report: No. 31 (first round)
The Sporting News: No. 24 (first round)
Draftwire.com: No. 28 (first round)

LB T.J. Edwards
SB Nation: No. 21 (first round)
The Big Lead: No. 30 (first round)
The Sporting News: No. 26 (first round)

Five Wisconsin players selected in 2018 NFL Draft

With the 2018 NFL Draft having come and gone there were five Wisconsin Badgers that heard their name called as they were selected by various NFL franchises.

Here are the players from the University of Wisconsin that were selected in the draft, with their team, overall selection, and round:

CB Nick Nelson, Oakland Raiders, No. 110, fourth round

TE Troy Fumagalli, Denver Broncos, No. 156, fifth round

DB Natrell Jamerson, New Orleans Saints, No. 164, fifth round

LB Jack Cichy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, No. 202, sixth round

LB Leon Jacobs, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 230, seventh round

The following players signed with teams after the draft concluded as undrafted free agents

LB Garret Dooley, Minnesota Vikings

FB Austin Ramesh, Arizona Cardinals

DL Alec James, Arizona Cardinals

Nelson went highest of all the former Badgers, as expected. Although if not for a knee injury during a pre-draft workout he would have likely been drafted higher than he was.

Cichy last played for Wisconsin during the 2016 season, which was cut short due to a torn pectoral muscle. He then missed the entirety of the 2017 season with a torn ACL.

All five players selected from Wisconsin attended the 2018 NFL Combine. In total, Wisconsin had six players at the combine, with linebacker Garret Dooley as the lone player in attendance that was not selected in the draft.

More former Badgers including Derrick Tindal and Joe Ferguson are expected to sign with teams as undrafted free agents. This list will be updated to reflect that as they are reported.

Wisconsin loses commit in Class of 2019

Wisconsin’s 2019 recruiting class has one fewer member.

3-star safety Bryson Shaw announced Saturday on Twitter that he had de-committed from the Badgers and flipped to Ohio State.

“After many talks with my family, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to switch my commitment from Wisconsin to The Ohio State,” Shaw wrote in a tweet. “Personal family matters have called for me to be close to home. I love and thank the Wisconsin community for [accepting] me.”

Shaw committed to Wisconsin in January and a week later he was offered by Ohio State.

His de-commitment leaves the Badgers with eight players in their 2019 class.

Wisconsin lands a transfer

Wisconsin has landed a transfer.

Houston safety Collin Wilder announced Monday night on Twitter that he was joining the Badgers.

“Grateful for another opportunity,” Wilder tweeted. “Without so many people it wouldn’t be possible. I’m betting all in on myself.”

Wilder played in just two games last year before a season-ending knee injury. As a true freshman in 2016, he played in 13 games, mostly on special teams.

A 3-star recruit coming out of Katy, Texas, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Wilder had an offer from the Badgers but ended up staying close to home.

Wilder will have to sit out this season, but will have two years of eligibility remaining.