- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wisconsin is still in the early stages of its first spring practice under head coach Paul Chryst, and the Badgers will hold one more workout Friday before spring break.
Chryst gave an update on the team Wednesday night, and this was among the more interesting tidbits he discussed: early enrollee Alex Hornibrook has taken some first-team snaps at quarterback.
Don't read too much into that for now, as coaches will often rotate players in with the starters to get a true look at them. But Hornibrook "earned the right" to get first-team reps, along with incumbent starter Joel Stave and backups Bart Houston and D.J. Gillins. According to this report, Hornibrook looked good running the offense on Thursday.
"I thought he handled himself pretty well," Chryst said of Hornibrook. "I was impressed with the way he approached things."
Austin Kafentzis was the hotshot quarterback recruit that committed to Gary Andersen and also has enrolled early. What of him so far?
"Everybody learns at a little bit different tempo," Chryst said. "I've enjoyed and appreciated what he's been doing. I'm not disappointed at all in Austin."
If that sounds like Hornibrook is ahead of Kafentzis, well, we probably shouldn't be too surprised. Chryst recruited Hornibrook at Pitt, so he obviously liked the way the 6-foot-4 lefthander fit his offensive system.
There's still a long way to go before anybody could potentially unseat Stave, a senior who owns a 20-6 record as the starter. And would Chryst really be willing to go with a totally inexperienced signal caller -- redshirt freshman Gillins counts here, too -- for the opener against, gulp, Alabama?
Some other notes from Chryst's media session:
Wide receiver Jordan Fredrick and kicker Rafael Gaglianone are expected to miss the rest of the spring with injuries. (We'll have to wait until fall to see another amazing celebration from Gaglianone). Also among the walking wounded: tight end T.J. Watt, receivers A.J. Jordan and Reggie Love and offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel.
In good news on the injury front, center Dan Voltz participated in his first full practice of the spring. Voltz, you might recall, was injured late in the season and had to leave the Big Ten championship game early. That, uh, did not work out so well for the Badgers. He also couldn't make it through the game in the Outback Bowl. When healthy, he's one of the best centers in the Big Ten. "Coming off the end of the season, it feels really good to just get back out here and play with the team again," he told Madison.com.
Former quarterback Tanner McEvoy is back at safety, but on Wednesday he also practiced with the wide receivers. Wisconsin should be able to use his speed and athleticism somewhere on offense, even if in limited packages. Rob Wheelwright also worked out with the starters at wideout, which may be the position of the most pressing need for the Badgers.
You can watch Chryst's entire post-practice interview here.