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Monday, March 16, 2009
Time for Badgers wideouts to grow up

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Quarterback play tops Paul Chryst's priorities list this spring, but the Wisconsin offensive coordinator will also keep close tabs on the wide receivers.

The Badgers' struggles at quarterback last fall are well documented, but neither Allan Evridge nor Dustin Sherer got much help from their wideouts. Dropped passes began surfacing in the spring game and became a common theme during preseason camp and after the real games began.

For the third consecutive season, a tight end (Garrett Graham) led the team in receiving yards, while the Badgers' wideouts accounted for only four receiving touchdowns.

The good news is everyone returns, and none of the Badgers' primary wideouts -- David Gilreath, Isaac Anderson, Maurice Moore, Nick Toon, Kyle Jefferson -- will be a senior this fall. Toss in heralded freshman Kraig Appleton, and the group should see better results.

"They've got to drop that young tag," Chryst said. "They've always been known as a group of young receivers. Well, they've got a lot of experience in games under their belt. So they've got to step up."

Graham and fellow tight end Lance Kendricks will continue to play key roles in the offense, but Chryst wants to give Wisconsin's next starting quarterback as much help as possible.

"You look at the receivers, Isaac Anderson, the Minnesota game did some good things for us, but also put the ball on the ground three times," Chryst said. "Nick Toon grew as the year went on, but didn't show up much in the early games. Kyle Jefferson may have been better as a freshman than a sophomore. David Gilreath, he's got to bring something.

"They can help the quarterback by being guys you can count on. It's exciting because we know a lot about a lot of these guys, but shoot, we've got a lot of work to do."