Badgers react to apparent slight by former quarterback Alex Hornibrook

Alex Hornibrook is no longer with the Wisconsin football team, but the quarterback’s words from 1,100 miles away are still creating news in Madison.

The Badgers starter the past three seasons, Hornibrook transferred to Florida State after graduating in May. Despite Wisconsin being in his rearview mirror, the fifth-year senior decided to take a not-so-subtle shot at his former teammates when he faced the media on Friday.

“They’re a really hard-working group,” Hornibrook said. “I’ve never seen receivers that don’t want to leave the field. When you’re running routes, they just keep going and going. I’m excited to get on the practice field with them.”

Earlier in the interview, Hornibrook was asked what made him want to come to Florida State.

“The first thing I saw (at practice) was the receivers,” Hornibrook said. “I never saw that much talent in a receiver corps before. And then everybody just seemed hungry that whole practice. It was just kind of a different intensity that I’ve seen before.”

A reporter involved in the interview, Ariya Massaoudi, sent out a tweet that claimed Hornibrook said, “I’ve never been around a group of (wide receivers) that love football so much and never want to leave the field.”

While that was not a direct quote, the meaning was similar, and it led to several current and former Wisconsin players, including wide receivers Kendric Pryor and Danny Davis, taking to Twitter to respond.

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It’s not the first time Hornibrook has lavished praise on Florida State at the expense of Wisconsin. In April, he raved to 247Sports about the talent on the Seminoles roster.

“That is the most talent I’ve seen on a college football team is when I was down there and I saw Florida State practicing,” Hornibrook said. “That really got me pumped up because I’ve seen a lot of good football teams. Once I saw that, I thought it could be pretty special there.”

Former Wisconsin WR Quintez Cephus found not guilty of sexual assault

Former Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus was found not guilty Friday afternoon of two counts of sexual assault.

A jury in Madison took less than an hour during deliberations in coming to their not guilty findings on charges of third-degree sexual assault and second-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim.

“I’m happy. I’ve had a lot of people here supporting me and my family,” Cephus said after the verdict, according to WKOW’s Amy Gill. “I’ve learned a lot through this situation. I know it sounds crazy but I think you grow through what you go through. I’ve grown a lot … and I’m excited about the rest of my life going forward.”

Cephus was accused of assaulting two female students at his off-campus apartment in April of 2018. He was suspended from the football team last August and expelled from school in the spring after the university found him in violation of the non-academic misconduct code.

Prior to the charges, Cephus was expected to be the top receiver for the Badgers during the 2018 season. Before having his season cut short due to injury in 2017, he had 30 catches for 501 yards and six touchdowns.

Cephus’ former teammate, Danny Davis, testified during the trial. Cephus had him take a picture of the two girls when they were naked. Davis immediately deleted the photo, but still received a two-game suspension to open the 2018 season.

Wisconsin adds fourth commitment in 2021 class

Wisconsin landed its fourth commitment in its 2021 recruiting class and its second running back.

According to Jon McNamara of BadgerBlitz.com, Loyal Crawford (Eau Claire, Wis.) reportedly gave his verbal commitment to the Badgers Thursday.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Crawford was offered a scholarship July 23 and wasted little time in choosing Wisconsin. The Badgers were his only offer to this point.

A 3-star recruit, 247Sports ranked him as the fourth-best player in the state for 2021 and the 46th ranked running back in the country.

Crawford is the second in-state running back in the class, joining Jackson Acker (Verona, Wis.), who committed earlier in the summer. Acker is ranked as the third-best player in Wisconsin and the 22nd-best running back in the nation.

The other commitments in the class are 4-star offensive tackle JP Benzschawel (Grafton, Wis.) and 3-star quarterback Deacon Hill (Santa Barbara, Calif.).

The Camp: Aug. 1, 2019

On this week’s episode of The Camp, Zach and Jesse look back at local media day and give their impressions of the first day of fall camp.

1:46 — Jonathan Taylor’s leadership already standing out

3:17 — How reps are going to work early on at quarterback

7:56 — A surprise with the first-team offensive line

13:45 — The excitement around getting Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk back is evident

20:21 — The loss of weight at the WR spot is notable

31:48 — Plenty of questions at the OLB spot

34:05 — Badgers say they’re coming back with a vengeance after a down 2018

Wisconsin will start in top 25 of Amway Coaches Poll

For the ninth time in the last 10 seasons, the Wisconsin football team will start the year inside the top 25 of the Amway Coaches Poll.

The first poll of the year was released Thursday, with the Badgers coming in tied at No. 17 with Central Florida.

They were one of seven teams from the Big Ten that made the rankings. Ohio State (No. 5), Michigan (No. 7) and Penn State (No. 14) were ahead of Wisconsin, while Iowa (No. 19), Michigan State (No. 20) and Northwestern (No. 25) were ranked lower than the Badgers. West Division favorite Nebraska received the most votes of any teams that didn’t make the top 25.

In total, five of Wisconsin’s 12 opponents this season were in the top 25, though none of the Badgers non-conference foes — South Florida, Central Michigan or Kent State — made it.

Defending national champion Clemson took the top spot, with Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma and the Buckeyes rounding out the top 5.

You can view the full poll here:

Badgers looking for ‘vengeance’ after a disappointing 2018

Wisconsin held its media day at Camp Randall Stadium Wednesday night in advance of getting fall camp started on Thursday.

Here are a few things we learned in talking to the assistant coaches and players:

* At Big Ten media days in mid-July, linebacker Chris Orr made clear that what happened last season — going 8-5 after starting the year in the top-5 of the national polls — wasn’t acceptable for a Wisconsin team. He felt the team didn’t measure up to what the program had been in previous years. Turns out the senior wasn’t alone in that thinking.

“We’re coming for vengeance,” linebacker Zack Baun said. “There’s a standard that’s been set at Wisconsin. We all see it on the walls and the tunnel (at the stadium). Obviously, we all understand we didn’t meet that standard last year, so we’re coming for it this year.”

That anger wasn’t reserved for the defensive side of the ball.

“We had an eight win season last year and that’s not who we are,” left tackle Cole Van Lanen said. “All of us, we’ve been a part of really good teams. We know the standard and we know what we screwed up last year. That’s not going to happen again.

“It comes down to a mentality we all need to have. As a team, a lot of us don’t think we had it last year. This year, it’s definitely there.”

* The Badgers will spend the first five days of camp installing their offense. It will be the second time, having also done the same thing in the spring over the 15 sessions. If true freshman Graham Mertz is going to win the starting job, how he handles that process could go a long way.

“Like any of the guys, we’ve got to be able to trust them to put them on the field,” quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr said. “I’m excited to see what he retained from the spring and just continue to see him grow within the offense. He’s got 15 practices under his belt. Now, every rep is valuable. With knowing that, how can he continue to grow as he gets those reps.”

How those reps will be handed out remains to be seen, though Budmayr tipped his hand a bit.

“The five days (to start camp) builds off the spring, but the foundation, right now, is from the spring,” Budmayr said. “The reps will be reflected from what that spring produced.”

That would suggest that junior Jack Coan will continue to see a healthy share of first-team reps, just like he did during the spring, with Mertz likely to be the next up, followed by redshirt sophomore Danny Vanden Boom and redshirt freshman Chase Wolf. That doesn’t mean it will stay that way.

“There’s always a chance with competition for the opportunity to earn more reps and the opportunity to lose reps at times. A lot of it is based off production. That’s what I love about this group. They are so competitive.”

* Danny Davis is looking slimmer than a year ago. The Badgers wide receiver dropped 10 pounds to 194 as he enters his third season.

“He changed his body, he’s in better shape and he’s stronger,” wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore said. “I think he finally cut off some of his baby fat. He looks good.”

Teammate Kendric Pryor said Davis wanted to be over 200 pounds in the past, but after an up-and-down 2018, he committed himself to being in better shape.

“I don’t think it was good weight,” Pryor said. “For him, I think he feels better and more comfortable at this weight where he can move more freely.”

* A critique of the wide receivers by some a year ago was an inability to separate from defensive backs. While Gilmore disagreed with that assessment, he did offer an area where they do need improvement.

“If someone said we had trouble at the line of scrimmage, I’d absolutely agree with that,” Gilmore said. “Our job, if we can get better (at anything), I think it’s at the initial stages and wining that first five (yards).”

* There will be competition along the offensive line during camp, but barring injury or something else unforeseen, there’s a good chance the starting unit will look like this:

LT Cole Van Lanen
LG Jason Erdmann
C Tyler Biadasz
RG Kayden Lyles
RT Logan Bruss

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph is expecting a big jump from Bruss after he started the final three games of the year, but he also spoke highly of senior David Moorman and redshirt sophomore Tyler Beach, saying they will also be in the mix at tackle.

“(Beach), as a young guy, made some needed jumps and really did a nice job,” Rudolph said. “I (also) wouldn’t count (Moorman) out. I think he’s going to factor in at some point. Who knows, he might come out of the camp as a starter.”

One interesting note is that Moorman will be the backup at center and Lyles will concentrate solely on left and right guard. Rudolph said he didn’t want Lyles to be swimming mentally after spending all of last year on defense.

Redshirt sophomore Josh Seltzner will also battle for playing time at guard.

* Defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield isn’t one to display a lot of emotion in talking to the media, but it was easy to see his happiness with having juniors Garrett Rand and Isaiahh Loudermilk back and healthy. Rand missed all of last year with a torn Achilles, while Loudermilk was never quite healthy with various ailments.

“With a healthy (Rand) and a healthy (Loudermilk), you definitely change the look of the defense,” Breckterfield said.

Rand hasn’t gone through a practice since spring of 2018 but expect him to hit the ground running when camp opens up.

“He’s full go and he’s hungry,” Breckterfield said. “He’s ready to be unleashed, so I’m excited to get him out there.”

Loudermilk looks different than a year ago, having cut 14 pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame and now weighing 293 pounds.

“I just told him, ‘300-plus (pounds) is a little too big for you,’” Breckterfield said. “For him to drop down to about 290 is going to help him. He’s strong enough and he’s got the length, but I just want him to be a little more athletic.”

Breckterfield’s rotation at defensive end will feature Rand, Loudermilk, redshirt sophomore Matt Henningsen, senior David Pfaff and redshirt freshman Isaiah Mullens. At nose tackle, sophomore Bryson Williams will run with the first-team, while senior Gunnar Roberge, along with true freshman Keeanu Benton and Gio Paez, battle for the backup job.

* One of the new faces on media day was linebacker Travis Wiltjer. Before transferring to Wisconsin, the Michigan native played three years at Northwood University, where he had 152 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. How he got to Madison is an unlikely story.

“I was flying back from a business trip with my boss and we were watching March Madness at Chili’s (in Chicago) when (Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez) sat down next to me,” Wiltjer said. “We just talked because we both had layovers. He was like, ‘If you’re still looking to transfer, send your film over and if the coaches call you, they call you.’ I just played the waiting game a little bit and they made the call.”

Wiltjer doesn’t have any expectations coming in, saying his goal is just to help the team in anyway he can. How that comes about will be interesting to watch, as there is some depth at inside linebacker with Orr, sophomore Jack Sanborn, freshman Leo Chenal and junior Mike Mascalunas making up the two-deep on the depth chart.

“Coming in, I just want to make an impact,” Wiltjer said. “That’s anyone can do when coming out. Obviously, they see something in me. Whether that be scout team, special teams or defense, I’m just here to enjoy my senior year and go out on top.”

Wiltjer is the first player from his high school to be on a team in the Big Ten.

* Two years ago, defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard moved Natrell Jamerson from cornerback to safety and it paid off handsomely. Jamerson, now with the Green Bay Packers, started all 14 games, finishing with 51 tackles, two interceptions, 10 pass breakups and a touchdown while being named honorable mention All-Big Ten. Now, it’s junior Madison Cone’s turn to try his hand at safety after spending his first two years at cornerback, mostly as the nickel back in the slot.

“I’ll still be playing nickel back,” Cone said. “The safety thing, right now, is looking to be more situational. Coach will do that as he sees fit. The more comfortable I get, (Leonhard) said we could play it more. This camp is going to be huge for me getting comfortable back there and just finding where I fit in.”

Badgers tab Alando Tucker as interim assistant coach

MADISON — Wisconsin is bringing in a familiar face to serve as an assistant basketball coach this upcoming season.

The school announced Wednesday that Alando Tucker would be the interim assistant coach in place of Howard Moore, who will miss the season as he recovers from a car accident in May that killed his wife and daughter.

“I never wanted to join the Wisconsin coaching staff under circumstances like this, and my thoughts and prayers are with Howard and his family and will continue to be all season,” Tucker said in a release put out by the school. “Howard and his family are very close friends of our family and his absence on the UW bench will be immense. He is the ultimate Badger and a tremendous coach. I owe it to him and my alma mater to do my best to coach up to his standard. I’m looking forward to working with our team and continue the strong legacy that guys like Howard have helped build.”

Head coach Greg Gard flew to Michigan to be with the Moore family after the accident and has continued to support them in anyway possible.

“First off, the hearts of the entire Wisconsin basketball family are with Howard and his family right now,” Gard said. “We think about him daily and will continue to do so during the entire season. He has helped shape this program for more than 25 years and he will be missed in our huddle this year.
 
“We’re thankful to have someone like Alando able to step into this role. His familiarity with the program and our players, combined with his incredible basketball experience and energy will be a great fit. No one person can fill Howard’s spot on our bench, but knowing how close he and Alando are as friends, I’m sure Alando will work as hard as possible to meet that level.”

Wisconsin’s all-time leading scorer, Tucker spent 10 years playing professionally. He returned to Wisconsin in February of 2018 as UW’s Director of Student-Athlete Engagement.

Takeaways from Wisconsin updated fall roster

MADISON — Wisconsin will open fall camp on Thursday. In advance of that, the Badgers released an updated roster. Here’s a look at some of the things that caught our eye in looking it over.

Weight changes:

In comparing the spring roster to the one released Tuesday, here were the guys that gained a noteworthy amount of weight.

OLB Spencer Lytle +19 (223)
DE Matt Henningsen +15 (286)
ILB Seth Currens +15 (224)
OT Cole Van Lanen +12 (312)
OT Cormac Sampson +11 (280)
ILB Leo Chenal +11 (250)
ILB Chris Orr +10 (224)
OLB Zack Baun +10 (235)
OL David Moorman +10 (307)
WR AJ Abbott +10 (192)
DB Travian Blaylock +9 (200)
S Scott Nelson +7 (204)
FB Mason Stokke +7 (239)
TE Luke Benzschawel +7 (276)
RB Bradrick Shaw +6 (216)
QB Chase Wolf +5 (196)
QB Jack Coan +5 (221)
RB Isaac Guerendo +5 (213)
RB Garrett Groshek +5 (220)
OLB Noah Burks +5 (240)
OT Logan Bruss +5 (310)

On the opposite side of things, here’s some of the guys that dropped weight:

DE Isaiahh Loudermilk -14 (293)
WR Danny Davis -10 (194)
WR Kendric Pryor -6 (180)
DE C.J. Goetz -6 (241)
OL Michael Furtney | 6 (307)
WR Taj Mustapha -6 (190)
WR AJ Taylor -4 (200)

A few things stand out in looking at the numbers.

For one, Spencer Lytle took full advantage of arriving early and going through winter conditioning, spring practice and then summer workouts. At 223 pounds, he’s put himself in position physically to hold up at outside linebacker as a true freshman and gave himself shot of earning playing time.

The same goes for linebacker Leo Chenal. He was already physically impressive in the spring, but he’s added another 11 pounds and is now listed at 250 pounds. With the way he played during the 15 practices in March and April, and now added even more bulk, Chenal seems almost a lock to play special teams and/or defense in his first year.

Another 15 pounds for defensive lineman Matt Henningsen should help him in the trenches in his second year of playing, while Cole Van Lanen’s extra 12 pounds could be a benefit in the run game.

As for those that lost weight, it’s notable that four of the six guys we picked out were wide receivers. Some criticized their ability to gain separation from defensive backs last year. It’s possible the lost weight, especially the 10 pounds by Davis, could go a long way in helping the speed and quickness of the group.

Loudermilk’s weight loss also stands out. At 6-foot-7, 293 pounds is pretty lean for a defensive lineman. This could be something designed to help his lower body handle the wear and tear considering the injuries he’s dealt with early in his career.

If you care

Senior OL Jason Erdmann is the heaviest at 328 pounds

Sophomore WR Aron Cruickshank is the lightest at 161 pounds

There are 18 players that weigh 300 pounds or more. That’s down from 20 a year ago. Four of the 18 are true freshmen — DL Keeanu Benton (315), OL Joe Tippmann (312), OL Logan Brown (311), DL Gio Paez (305).

Junior DL Isaiahh Loudermilk is the tallest player at 6-foot-7

Junior WR Jack Dunn is the shortest player at 5-foot-7

Position changes

One notable position change was that of Madison Cone moving from cornerback to safety. The junior had played primarily in the slot his first two years.

The Badgers had success in moving a cornerback to safety just two years ago when they did the same thing with Natrell Jamerson. He went on to earn All-Big Ten honors.

The move of Cone also alleviates a bit of a logjam at the cornerback spot.

Number changes

Only two scholarship players changed numbers from the spring, with running back Isaac Guerendo going from No. 10 to No. 20, and defensive end C.J. Goetz moving from No. 34 to No. 98.

Freshmen numbers

QB Graham Mertz | No. 5
CB Dean Engram | No. 6
OLB Spencer Lytle | No. 7
WR Stephan Bracey | No. 11
DB Titus Toler | No. 12
WR Cam Phillips | No. 18
CB Semar Melvin | No. 20
CB James Williams | No. 24
FB Quan Easterling | No. 28
K Blake Wilcox | No. 28
RB Julius Davis | No. 32
OL Logan Brown | No. 50
DL Gio Paez | No. 51
ILB Maema Njongmeta | No. 55
DL Rodas Johnson | No. 56
OL Joe Tippmann | No. 75
TE Clay Cundiff | No. 85
TE Hayden Rucci | No. 87
DL Keeanu Benton | No. 95

No longer on the roster

Two players that were around in the spring have been taken off the roster. Injuries have reportedly ended linebacker Griffin Grady’s career and he’s seeking a medical redshirt.

Also, walk-on tight end Nate Carter from Waunakee has been removed from the roster.

Added to the roster

Wisconsin added a transfer in linebacker Travis Wiltjer. A native of Maple City, Mich., Wiltjer played the past three seasons at Northwood University. He racked up 152 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss and 5 forced fumbles for the Division II school. He was a two-time all-conference honorable mention in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Wiltjer is a graduate transfer, meaning he’s eligible to play this fall.

Wisconsin assistant Howard Moore won’t coach this season

Howard Moore won’t coach during the 2019-2020 basketball season.

Moore’s family made that announcement Monday afternoon.

“University of Wisconsin men’s basketball assistant coach Howard Moore recently experienced a medical issue at his Madison area home that required ambulatory transportation to a local hospital.  During the transportation to the hospital, Howard underwent cardiac arrest and has been receiving care by the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital. 
 
Howard will now be moving to a long-term care and rehabilitation facility to continue the focus on his recovery and health. He will not coach during the upcoming 2019-20 season.
 
The Moore Family greatly appreciates the outpouring of love and support from the greater Madison and Chicago communities, the Badgers and Big Ten families and all whose lives Howard and his family have touched.  Please continue to keep Howard and his son, Jerell, in your prayers.”

Moore was involved in a car accident in Michigan in late May that took the life of his daughter, Jaidyn, and wife, Jennifer. His son, Jerell, was also in the car and sustained minor injuries.

Moore played basketball at Wisconsin (1991-94) before returning to serve as an assistant under former coach Bo Ryan from 2005 to 2010. He then took the head coaching job at Illinois-Chicago. After five seasons there, he came back to his alma mater midway through the 2015-16 season as an assistant under coach Greg Gard.

Wisconsin sets home-and-home series with Alabama

Alabama is coming to Madison.

The Wisconsin football program announced Monday that it had agreed to a home-and-home series with the Crimson Tide. Alabama will visit Camp Randall Stadium on Sept. 14, 2024, with the Badgers heading to Tuscaloosa on Sept. 13, 2025.

It will be the first time an SEC team has come to Madison since 1971 and just the fourth time ever. The Tide also came in 1928 and lost 15-0.

As for the return trip, the Badgers will be playing at an SEC venue for just the second time in their history. They played at LSU in 1972.

The only other matchup between the two schools came in Paul Chryst’s first game as head coach in 2015. Alabama won that game 35-17 at AT&T Stadium outside of Dallas.

“We are excited to add another high-caliber, non-conference game to our future schedule,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said in a release by the school. “We played a great game with Wisconsin in Arlington a few years back and this home-and-home series will be a tremendous opportunity for our programs to play in two of the best atmospheres in college football. Matchups like this are so important to the health of college football because it provides fans exciting matchups and players new challenges.”

Outside of 2019 and 2028, Wisconsin now has Power 5 opponents set in its non-conference schedule through 2032.

2020: Notre Dame (Green Bay)
2021: Notre Dame (Chicago)
2022: Washington State
2023: @ Washington State
2024: Alabama
2025: @ Alabama
2026: Pittsburgh
2027: @ Pittsburgh
2029: @ UCLA
2030: UCLA
2031: Va Tech
2032: Va Tech