Friday, January 9, 2009

Good bye, seniors

The other day I was taking down the 2008 Wisconsin football poster/calendar in my office to make room for the one Jana made me. Before doing so I looked one last time at the guys on the poster who, for all the disappointments of this season, still contributed to 38 wins in their careers. Not too shabby.

Mike Newkirk
Good contributor for several years. His dad says he's bulked up to 275 pounds and could play in the NFL. We'll see. Part of me thinks if we'd had a really good line, he would have been best suited to be a backup who could play 50% of the snaps swinging between end and tackle.

Jason Chapman
Chappy was never the same after his knee injury. It was a shame, he was so quick off the ball. Every time he'd get whistled for jumping the snap I'd get upset with him, but then remember all the times he got away with it and disrupted the opponent's backfield.

Matt Shaughnessy
Never became the star many thought he would become after his strong freshman year, but always produced. Who knows, maybe his production will increase as a professional. The thing I'll remember about him is he always seemed to be disciplined, staying at home on reverses or quarterback rollouts. And don't forget, he was playing with a heavy heart this year.

Eric Vanden Heuvel
Not a star, but it was obvious the line was at its best this year when he was at right tackle.

Andy Kemp
The memory of Kemp I'll retain is of him chucking his helmet in celebration after the win over Cal Poly this year, out of character for a seemingly quiet kid, but enjoyable to watch. Against the weak non-conference teams we played he had success pulling. Will be interesting to see if he gets a shot professionally.

Dave Peck
I've already got Will practicing long snapping, it can earn you a Division 1 scholarship, and maybe a shot at the NFL. Don't know if Dave is good enough for that, but who would've thought Mike Solwold was?

Kraig Urbik
Only special players start four years on our offensive line. Joe Thomas, Chris McIntosh, Casey Rabach ... Kraig Urbik. Nice to see him get All-American honors from, even if it was sort of a stretch -- not that he didn't perform well, it's just that he was hurt this season.

DeAndre Levy
What I'll remember about Dre was his reaction after our embarrassing loss at Penn State in 2007. It was genuine, heartfelt, and showed that he really cared, which is not always the impression that some of these guys give. He represented the Milwaukee City Conference well, and hopefully inspired some of those kids to take football more seriously.

Travis Beckum
His emergence as a star in 2006 was one of the most pleasant surprises of a pleasantly surprising season, and he kept it up in 2007. That was more important than just on-field production. Becks was one of the most highly-rated recruits we've ever brought in, and had he failed, it would have hurt future recruiting. He was obviously not going to cut it at linebacker -- too tall -- and he lacked the instincts and aggressiveness to play defensive end. Kudos to the coaching staff for finding the right spot for his abilities, and kudos to Travis for making the most of the opportunity.

Allan Evridge
To think: I was expecting and hoping for him to beat out Tyler Donovan for the starting job in 2007. The thought was that a two-year starter would be better than back-to-back one-year starters. Wrong-o, T.

Jonathan Casillas
Anyone who was at the Metrodome for our 2005 game will remember him for his involvement in the greatest blocked punt in UW history. He was a playmaker on defense, too, when healthy. I hope he gets a shot in the pros, maybe he'll make an impact on some team's special teams and maybe get a shot at being a backup safety.

Ryan Flasch
When he transferred in I thought he'd factor into the mix at linebacker, but no.

Chris Pressley
Solid kid for the program. Heard that Bielema said few kids get as much out of playing college football as Pressley has, which is a great compliment. He'll represent UW well in whatever he chooses to do after college.

Josh Neal
Moved around a lot -- linebacker, fullback, defensive line -- wherever he was needed. Seemed to be a favorite of his teammates.

Bill Rentmeester
Favorite memory: his eight-yard run to clinch the Fresno State game. Apparently he was also a killer on special teams, although it never jumped out at me.

Allen Langford
Who would've thought this guy would be the well-deserved team MVP as a senior? What a story. Not as talented as Jack Ikegwuonu, but he wasn't a major liability when teams avoided throwing at Ike. Hurts his knee as a junior, but unlike many guys makes a full recovery in time for his senior season. Thrown out there with two rookie corners on the other side, and the secondary holds its own for the most part. Langford comes off like he was a 10-year NFL veteran, a consummate professional who happens to still be an amateur. He probably won't get the chance to play professionally, but I could see him being a good coach.

Damn, that was a good class. Probably the most individual talent of a departing senior class in a few years. No way they should have lost six games. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff produces with classes made up of more Dave Pecks than Travis Beckums.


Edward said...

Man, Scott, that class makes me think of August 2007: sitting by Lake Michigan in Door County and reading the college football preview issue and thinking "wow, look how many of these guys are only juniors coming off a 12-1 team! This is going to be a hell of a next year or two." For one reason or another this class was full of great supporting actors, who never were able to lead UW to a big season as main guys. I think the best comparision would be to the senior class of 1994 or 2000. So much talent, but so bad at being frontrunners rather than darkhorses. I hope they all get shots at the NFL, and I hope the badgers get to sneak up on people next year.

Duff Beach said...

I thought the same thing as Edward in '07. Bummer.

Anyway, it seems like the 2008 recruiting class holds a lot of promise the same way these guys did.

Moreover, if Phillips is a little better than 1/2 as good as I hope, we'll be ok for the next few years.