Wisconsin to open the season at night against Utah State

For the first time since 2011, the Wisconsin football team will open its season at night inside Camp Randall Stadium.

The national TV schedule for the first week of games was released on Thursday, and it showed the Badgers’ matchup with Utah State on Friday, Sept. 1 will get underway at 8 p.m. It will be televised on ESPN.

Wisconsin has opened its season with a night home game five times, and are 4-1 in those games, with victories over Western Michigan (2000), Fresno State (2002), Northern Illinois (2009) and UNLV (2010), with the lone loss coming against Colorado (1995).

This will be the first meeting between Wisconsin and Utah State since 2012, when the Badgers took down the Aggies 16-14. Utah State’s coach that day was Gary Andersen, who would leave for Wisconsin after that season, only to pull up stakes after just two years in Madison to go to Oregon State.

The Badgers return 15 starters from their 2016 squad that went 11-3, won the Big Ten West and beat Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl.

Bronson Koenig rolls ankle, leaves Bucks practice early

ST. FRANCIS, WISCONSIN | Thursday was supposed to be a day of opportunity for former Badger men’s basketball player Bronson Koenig. But at one of the Milwaukee Bucks pre-draft workouts in St. Francis, Koenig sustained an ankle injury. He had to leave the facility on crutches.

The injury occurred about three quarters of the way through the workout. Koenig and Virginia’s London Perrantes got tangled up, causing Koenig to roll his ankle pretty badly. Speaking to reporters after the session, Koenig admitted some disappointment in getting just 75 percent of the workout done but felt he showed his passing & shooting ability before the injury.  Koenig said he has more workouts planned, but with rolling his ankle today, he’s not sure how much he can do. He says he’ll just take it day by day.

Unlike his former Badger teammate Nigel Hayes, Koenig was not invited to the recent 2017 NBA Draft Combine. He did get invited to workout with several teams including his home state team the Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee  has the 17th and 48th selection in the NBA Draft this year.

Bart Houston signed by the Steelers

Bart Houston is a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The former Wisconsin quarterback tweeted Tuesday afternoon that he had signed with the AFC North power. It comes after Houston was a tryout candidate with the Oakland Raiders at their rookie orientation camp earlier this month.

Houston started just five games at Wisconsin, finishing with 1,540 yards passing, nine touchdowns and five interceptions. But he was playing the best football of his career at the end of 2016, including completing 91.7 percent of his passes for 159 yards in the BadgersCotton Bowl victory against Western Michigan.

Houston’s addition to the Steelers gives Wisconsin seven players off its 2016 team that are now on NFL rosters.

Biegel has foot surgery, could miss training camp

GREEN BAY | It’s not the way Vince Biegel wanted to start his Packers career. The former Wisconsin Badger linebacker, who was drafted in the 4th round by the Packers in last month’s NFL Draft, has undergone foot surgery to repair a Jones fracture according to ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky. Biegel will almost certainly miss the Packers upcoming OTA’s and mini-camp and could miss training camp in late July.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, speaking Monday at his annual press conference to promote his annual American Family Children’s golf and dinner event, did not talk about Biegel’s injury. Instead he had this to say about the former Badger: “He’s definitely made of the right stuff,” said McCarthy. “I’m glad he’s a Green Bay Packer and excited about his future.”

This is not the first time Biegel has had foot issues. The same Jones fracture cost him two games last year in his final season at Wisconsin.

Biegel also left his first practice with the Packers on May 5th with a hand injury.

Wisconsin Sports Awards: Former Badger Josh Gasser hints at retirement

MADISON, Wis. — Former Wisconsin guard Josh Gasser appears to be calling it a career, following a blue carpet appearance at the sixth annual Wisconsin Sports Awards last Thursday.

“Unfortunately, my body isn’t healing right, so I might be moving back to Madison here pretty soon and entering the real world,” Gasser told reporters prior to the awards ceremony.

Gasser went undrafted in 2015 before signing with Lowen Braunschweig, a professional basketball team in Germany. He’s dealt with knee injuries throughout his collegiate and professional career, along with a sports hernia in 2016. He averaged 6.6 points and 18 minutes per game while playing overseas.

“It was nice to play professionally overseas for a little bit,” Gasser continued. “Unfortunately, the injuries kind of added up for me, having a few surgeries over the years, but it was definitely still a good experience.”

Gasser was underrated as a recruit out of Port Washington, Wis. but famously received a scholarship offer from Wisconsin after another recruit got in trouble with the law. Gasser went on to play 148 games with the Badgers, averaging 7.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. But beyond the box score, Gasser’s contributions were more intangible, earning the nickname “Captain America” by his teammates.

Now that it appears his playing days are behind him, Gasser’s next venture will be skills camps around Wisconsin. He has three of them scheduled within the next month: May 21 at Westosha Central High School, June 10th at Cedarburg High School, and June 11th at Clinton High School. More information is available here.

Author’s note: We’d also like to thank Gasser for his contributions to the “Wisconsin Basketball Roundtable” with Jake Zimmermann and hope you’ll tune in next basketball season every Thursday night at 5.

Former QB commit issues statement on Wisconsin pulling his scholarship offer

MADISON — When news broke Friday night that quarterback Ben Bryant (La Grange, Ill.) was no longer committed to the University of Wisconsin, questions about the surprising development greatly exceeded the answers. In an effort to fill in the blanks, the 3-star recruit issued a lengthy statement on Twitter Saturday night that detailed his side of the events that led him to re-open his recruitment.

“Just recently, a [Georgia] coach reached out to me via text. After a couple communications, he gave me an offer,” wrote Bryant, who had committed to Wisconsin back in December. “I was blown away. This was followed by potential dates to visit.”

Bryant said he never intended to visit Athens and was never going to flip his commitment to the Bulldogs.

“However, I felt complimented big time by this offer and appreciated very much the attention they were showing me,” Bryant stated. “It made me feel good about my abilities and potential.”

The Illinois prep said he contacted Wisconsin quality control assistant Jon Budmayr, who works with the quarterbacks, telling him about the offer, but maintaining that he was still 100-percent committed to the Badgers. Then, late Thursday night, he sent out a tweet about the offer.

“The next morning we spoke on the phone, and I was informed that I was no longer a good fit for Wisconsin, and I was encouraged to continue looking for a fit,” Bryant wrote.

“The implication that my loyalty to UW had been compromised was not true and is what saddens me the most.”

Bryant’s statement went on to say that contact between him and Wisconsin had been “subpar” at times and during his visits to campus, but he maintained that he wanted to come to Madison.

“Many life lessons have been learned during this,” Bryant wrote. “I should not have corresponded more than once with another school while committed, and secondly, trust is sacred.

“I will move on from this with the goal of earning trust from others and trusting my own instincts more.”

Pulling a recruit’s scholarship offer is a rarity at Wisconsin, especially one that’s been committed for five months. It’s unclear if there is more to the story than what Bryant has revealed, and UW officials can’t comment on unsigned players.

“I wish nothing but the best for the UW coaching staff and the upcoming season,” Bryant concluded. “I also wish the best for the players, but most especially for the 2018 commits whom I now consider friends.

“On Wisconsin.”

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound, Bryant is ranked as the No. 24 pro-style quarterback in the country, according to 247Sports. He had been one of two signal callers in Wisconsin’s 2018 class, but now it’s just 3-star recruit Chase Wolf (Cincinnati, Ohio), who committed earlier in May.

Bryant’s full statement:

Jake’s Take – Nigel Hayes will be missed

In this week’s edition of Jake’s Take, sports director Jake Zimmermann says Badger men’s basketball player Nigel Hayes will be missed for a variety of reasons. Jake says the former Badger, who’s taking part in the NBA combine in Chicago this week, will go down in school history as one of the best Badgers on the court and one of the most influential off the court.

This week Hayes wrote what he called a commencement address on the Players Tribune titled “Don’t Just Shut Up and Play.” The forward gave a couple of final messages.. his biggest? Telling his class to never stay in your lanes. In other words, just because they are athletes doesn’t mean they get to talk about sports. Hayes argues he has the right to speak his mind about a variety of issues. Jake Zimmermann agrees.

To listen to this week’s Jake’s Take, click the link below.

 

 

UW-Green Bay’s Trevor Anderson transferring to Wisconsin

Trevor Anderson is fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball in 2016, the Stevens Point native announced yesterday he was leaving UW-Green Bay after just one season and transferring to Wisconsin as a walk-on.

“Growing up in Wisconsin, it was always my personal dream to play for the Badgers,” Anderson wrote in a tweet announcing his decision.

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 9.8 points per game for the Phoenix last year before an injury ended his season 20 games in. Anderson will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining after that.

Anderson was a major catalyst in helping Stevens Point win back-to-back Division 1 state titles in 2015 and 2016, combining with current Marquette forward Sam Hauser and top 2018 prospect Joey Hauser, the latter of which is being recruited hard by Wisconsin and the Golden Eagles.

Anderson is the second walk-on to commit to the Badgers this month, joining Edina (Minnesota) guard Walt McGrory.

Packers kick off day 3 by selecting Wisconsin LB Vince Biegel

PHILADELPHIA — The Green Bay Packers were expected to select a Wisconsin linebacker, but instead of T.J. Watt, it was teammate Vince Biegel.

Biegel was taken with the 108th pick to kick off the fourth round of the NFL Draft. In his four years with the Badgers, Biegel racked up 88 solo tackles, including 28.5 for a loss. He was a second team All-Big Ten selection his senior year and a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy.

Green Bay beefs up its pass rush once again, drafting its fourth defensive player of the 2017 Draft. General manager Ted Thompson hinted that day three would be more focused on offensive selections. Green Bay will also have the 28th pick in round four.

T.J. Watt drafted 30th to Steelers, Ryan Ramczyk 32nd to Saints

PHILADELPHIA — Former Wisconsin offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk waited longer than he thought, but was drafted 32nd overall by the New Orleans Saints to wrap up round one of the 2017 NFL Draft. Fellow Badger T.J. Watt went two picks earlier to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

An all-state selection as a high schooler in Stevens Point, Wis., Ramczyk passed up a scholarship offer from Paul Chryst when he was coaching at Pitt so that he could attend a local technical college. He was offered a chance to play for Division III Wisconsin | Stevens Point where he was a two-time all-conference selection.

Ramczyk made the jump to the Division I level at Wisconsin, sitting out the 2015 season due to transfer rules, before making his impact felt in his 2016 campaign. He earned Associated Press All-American honors while starting every game for the Badgers.