It’s mid-July, which means we’re only a few weeks away from Big Ten Media Days and the start of fall camp for the Wisconsin Badgers football team.
The Badgers head into the 2022 season looking to improve on their 9-4 record from a year ago and are looking to return to the Big Ten Championship Game after missing out on a Big Ten West title in 2021.
After a busy off-season full of managerial changes, new hires and transfer arrivals, football is almost back. With that in mind, it’s time to preview each position group before fall camp begins.
Previously occupied positions:
Next in our ongoing series of position previews, to stay on offense, we’re breaking up the Badgers’ inside offensive line ahead of fall camp.
- Tyler Beach (RS SR) 6-ft-6, 316 lbs.
- Michael Furtney (RS SR) 6-ft-5, 315 lbs.
- Joe Tippmann (RS JR) 6-ft-7, 317 lbs.
- Trey Wedig (RS SO) 6-ft-7, 310 lbs.
- Dylan Barrett (RS SO) 6-ft-5, 318 lbs.
- Tanor Bortolini (RS SO) 6-ft-4, 306 lbs.
- Sean Timmis (RS SO) 6-foot-4, 300 lbs.
- Kerry Kodanko (RS SO) 6-ft-2, 303 lbs.
- JP Benzschawel (RS FR) 6-ft-6, 297 lbs.
- Barrett Nelson (FR) 6-ft-6, 277 lbs.
Projected Depth Chart
LG: Tyler Beach
C: Joe Tippman
RG: Michael Furtney or Tanor Bortolini
LG: Dylan Barrett or JP Benzschawel
C: Tanor Bortolini or Dylan Barrett
RG: Trey Wedig
Returning career production
- Tyler Beach: 46 career games with 20 starts
- Joe Tippmann: 13 career games with 10 starts
- Tanor Bortolini: 12 career games with five starts
- Michael Furtney: 31 career games with two starts
- Trey Wedig: 12 career games
- Dylan Barrett: Played three career games
- JP Benzschawel: played a career game
Former Wisconsin starters Josh Seltzner and Logan Bruss are just weeks away from their first NFL training camp, leaving the Badgers looking to replace two veteran starters down the offensive line.
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Post spring training, the left side of the line seems pretty quiet inside, with Tyler Beach at left guard and Joe Tippmann at center. The right guard’s position is still wide open, however, with several possible candidates vying for the starting spot.
Wisconsin’s offensive line coach Bob Bostad’s decision to switch Tyler Beach from left tackle to left guard seemed to pay off in the spring as Beach looked more comfortable and effective inside. Unlike last year, the sixth-year veteran is entering fall camp healthy, which should make him one of the more reliable linemen on the roster in 2022. He’s earned All-Big Ten honors each of the last two seasons, so he has the talent to help the team as a left-back starter.
Behind Beach, Dylan Barrett earned the majority of second-team reps in spring training. Barrett, a redshirt sophomore from Illinois, is moving well, and I think he could be a viable option to not only support Beach but potentially earn some time as a reserve center after the ever-versatile Cormac Sampson is gone is in the team.
Speaking of centers, Joe Tippmann enters fall camp as the No. 1 center after earning overall All-Big Ten recognition last season. Tippmann is one of the team’s best offensive linemen and should be one of the top centers in the Big Ten next season. He missed the entire spring with an injury, but at 6-foot-6 he’s a mauler at center in the running game for Wisconsin. Tippmann, who was only a redshirt junior this season, is already on the NFL draft watch lists, and the Badgers expect him to make another big move this season.
Since Tippmann was unable to walk in the spring, Tanor Bortolini took over all the repeat starts. Bortolini is one of the most intriguing players in Wisconsin’s offensive line room because of his versatility. In just two seasons at Madison, he’s played in games for the Badgers as a center, guard and tackle and is fighting for a starting spot on the right side of the line. Offensive line coach Bob Bostad mentioned back in the spring that he sees Bortolini as an inside player, and I believe if Tippmann went down with an injury, Bortolini would be the starter at center no matter how things play out at right. A native of Kewaunee, Wisconsin ranks very high, and his athletic ability makes him one of the most valuable offensive players on the entire roster.
Bortolini will fight at right flank with senior Michael Furtney in fall camp. Furtney has played in each of the last three seasons and has made multiple emergency starts with the guard in the past. With Bortolini at the centre, Furtney dominated the first-team representatives in the spring and played well. Furtney has been waiting his time in the offensive line room for this opportunity, and it will be fascinating to see if he can keep the starting role in the fall.
The other interesting name to keep an eye on is Trey Wedig. At 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds per spring list, he’s one of the tallest inside options along the offensive line. Wedig spent some time as a second-team right guard in bouncy ball and also occasionally took on replays in tackles. Wedig, the top rated recruit for the Badgers in the 2020 recruit class, has the talent to be a starter and I’m excited to see how he fits into the equation on the line. I think there’s a big chance the former four-star recruit will end up in the two-deep for the opener.
Young player to watch
While sophomore Tanor Bortolini and Trey Wedig are pushing for extra playing time this season, JP Benzschawel is another exciting attacking player at fall camp. Benzschawel, a former four-star high school recruit, wasted little time in committing to Wisconsin as part of the 2021 recruiting class and following the same path as his two older brothers.
After a red shirt season a year ago, the younger Benzschawel put on a lot and thus created additional opportunities in the spring. The Badgers put Benzschawel on guard back in the spring and I think that’s a natural landing spot for him in the future. At 6-foot-6 and about 300 pounds, he’s an exciting prospect, and he could run two-deep with a strong camber bearing at one point. Offensive linemen traditionally use the first redshirt season as a stepping stone, and I could see Benzschawel finding a role given his level of talent and proof of concept while his older brother Beau followed a similar path throughout his career.
I still think there are more established players ahead of him on the depth chart entering fall camp, but Benzschawel has some nice prospects and is a player to watch. He’s another player who could take some snaps down the middle in the fall to add depth to the position.
The biggest remaining question for the inside of the offensive line is right defense. The Badgers have two capable and experienced options at the position in Michael Furtney and Tanor Bortolini, both of whom have started at the spot in the past, but only one can win the starting job.
So it will be interesting to see which of the two shows up at fall camp.
Furtney has played in the second-most games of any inside offense on the roster but started just two games in his four years at Madison. As a redshirt senior, is it finally his turn to secure a starting place?
Redshirt student Tanor Bortolini is more athletic and has higher potential for the position, but has played fewer games. However, Bortolini has made more starts in the past two seasons and is one of the best young inside offensive linemen. Can he win the role of the real Guardian right off the bat?
I could see Bob Bostad going in multiple directions on the right, which is what makes the battle for the starting role so intriguing. Add that the right tackle spot also has some questions and Tanor Bortolini has started plays there too and the right side of the line remains in flux.
I still think Bortolini has a good chance of picking up either of those starting spots, but his versatility as an offensive swing lineman who can play anywhere when needed could make him just as valuable as a key reserve.
Former four-star offensive lineman Trey Wedig is also a contender, having played as a redshirt freshman in every game last season. Like Bortolini, he could be a factor in either position on the right side of the line. He worked at right guard and right tackle during the spring, although he spent most of his time with the second team at right guard.
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