Badgers cornerback Deron Harrell earns increase in reps
Another cornerback may have entered the race for playing time during the University of Wisconsin’s first few practices this fall.
After switching from wide receiver this offseason, redshirt freshman Deron Harrell earned an increased workload the past two days, even taking a good chunk of first-team reps alongside projected starter Dontye Carriere-Williams.
“I thought he did a nice job transitioning,” UW coach Paul Chryst said of Harrell. “I thought he really worked at it in the winter time. He said, OK, this is what I’ve got to do. ... I think Deron’s just starting to feel comfortable at (cornerback), learning the little intricacies of it. Obviously, he’s new at the position and young, but I certainly think he’s embraced it. Deron’s got talent, and he’s got a willingness, so those are two good starting points.”
The 6-foot-2, 182-pound Harrell appeared to be more of a long-term project when first switching positions, and sophomores Madison Cone and Caesar Williams and redshirt freshman Faion Hicks were all given significantly more reps than Harrell this spring.
Hicks, who took the majority of first-team reps during the Badgers’ first practice Thursday, suffered a right leg injury early in Friday’s practice, opening more opportunities for Harrell to potentially put himself in the mix for playing time this season.
Outside of Carriere-Williams, UW’s other cornerbacks have very little meaningful game experience, and the next four weeks are crucial for the position’s 2018 prospects.
“I think that there’s some guys who you feel can be good corners,” Chryst said. “They’ve got to play. They’ve got to learn. This is obviously a big camp for them to build those foundational pieces.”
Pressure could fall on Carriere-Williams to be the steady force at the position after serving as the Badgers’ No. 3 cornerback last season.
The sophomore doesn’t like to put himself on a different level than his teammates, though. He is, after all, about as young as the rest of the group and still relates to the others’ desire to prove themselves.
“I think it’s kind of second nature as a football player that when you’re young, you have that different kind of edge,” Carriere-Williams said. “You really have to earn your respect. That’s just the nature of coming into college. People want to see what you can do and what you’re capable of and if you can be trusted. I think everybody, even me, in our secondary has that approach coming in, to gain the respect from the guys and just show that we’re trustworthy on the field.
“We’re all trying to push each other to make each other better. We have a group of hungry guys.”
From the infirmary
Hicks (right leg) and wide receiver Adam Krumholz (right leg) were listed as out Saturday after suffering injuries during Friday’s practice. The two are not expected to be out for an extended period of time, per a UW official.
Inside linebacker T.J. Edwards (right leg), tight end Zander Neuville (right leg) and wide receivers Jack Dunn (left arm) and Emmet Perry (left leg) left Saturday’s practice with injuries. Neuville’s injury was not to the knee that he had ACL surgery on.
Running back Garrett Groshek (right arm) remained limited for the third straight practice, while running back Bradrick Shaw continues to work back slowly from his torn ACL suffered against Minnesota last season.
After sitting out team drills Friday, junior Jon Dietzen took initial first-team reps at left tackle Saturday. Sophomore Cole Van Lanen also worked in with the first team. ... Freshman Donte Burton, redshirt freshman Scott Nelson and sophomore Christian Volpentesta all snagged interceptions Saturday. Nelson stepped in front of an Alex Hornibrook pass, while Burton and Volpentesta picked off Jack Coan. Coan’s second interception slipped through the hands of a receiver.