Badgers look to complement Jazz Peavy
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MADISON--So which Wisconsin wide receiver will complement the clear leader of the unit, Jazz Peavy, in 2017?
The candidates are several:
George Rushing, who like Peavy, is entering his senior season; Quintez Cephus and A.J. Taylor, who gained valuable experience as freshmen in 2016; and Kendric Pryor, who redshirted last season.
Wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore likes what he has seen so far this spring from all four candidates.
Rushing, who has one start and 39 games played, had 12 catches for 136 yards last season as the No. 3 receiver. His issue during his first three seasons has been inconsistency, in part because of mental mistakes.
“George knows what he is doing,” Gilmore said after practice Tuesday, adding he can recall Rushing missing assignments just twice this spring. “I think he is playing really fast right now.
“I’ve been very pleased with what he has done to this point.”
Cephus, a tenacious blocker, started five games and played in all 14 last season. He had five catches for 94 yards and rushed five times for 41 yards. He was performing early in the spring but has missed several practices because of the shooting death of his father.
“He was picking up where he left off,” Gilmore said. “The game was starting to slow down for him a little bit. He was able to make some adjustments. If he made a mistake he could tell you why, as opposed to a year ago (when) he couldn’t.
“Obviously we are missing him and he is missing some valuable time, but when we get him back I’m sure he’ll hit the ground running.”
Cephus missed practice Tuesday so he could attend the funeral of his father, Andre Taylor, in Macon, Ga.
“Coach made it very clear: ‘You do what you need to do,’” Gilmore said, referring to head coach Paul Chryst. “Obviously, the other guys have got to pick up the slack. It is my job to get him up to speed. So there is no pressure.
"The staff is 100% behind him. Let him do what he needs to do.”
Taylor, who played mostly running back in high school, played in 13 games last season. He finished with 53 receiving yards and 19 rushing yards.
“A.J. is kind of in the same boat as QT,” Gilmore said. “Things are starting to make sense to him. He is having the confidence to try things … it is not enough to know the play. You’ve got to know the adjustments. He is figuring that piece of it out.”
Pryor is attempting to make up the ground he lost last season while on the scout team.
“The athletic ability is there,” Gilmore said, “but right now this is a huge time for him, learning the system. Each week he is getting better. Each week things are making more and more sense.
“Hopefully by the time we come out of spring that will put him in position going into training camp that will free him up to play.”
Chryst told reporters last week that he and Gilmore were with Cephus when the wide receiver learned about his father being shot.
According to Gilmore, Cephus was in the football offices studying video.
“He gets the call from his brother,” said Gilmore, who was a junior in college when his father died. “So emotions went from zero to 100 very quickly. It is one of those deals … you really can’t say anything. Just hold him.”