Andersen not afraid to play freshmen
Forget about total rushing yards (780).
Forget about yards per carry (8.2).
Forget about rushing touchdowns (eight).
Perhaps the most telling number involving Wisconsin's running game through two games this season is three.
A total of 18 players nationally have rushed for 250 yards this season. UW has three players in that group—redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon (22 carries, 284 yards), senior James White (33-252) and freshman Corey Clement (29-250).
UW coach Gary Andersen, though not allowed to comment on individual recruits, acknowledged this week his staff doesn't hesitate to point out that first-year players will be given the opportunity to contribute immediately if they are ready.
“As far as the number of quality backs that we used,” he said, “we use that in recruiting, absolutely. We use that at a lot of positions, and the youth playing early.
“So if you just look at us in recruiting tight ends, defensive linemen, linebackers, running backs…a lot of those kids are playing.
“That helps you in recruiting, there's no question about it. I think it helps you develop the program. How many young kids are playing this year with our freshmen is also something, I think, will help us out there on the recruiting trail as we move forward. We're excited to continue to recruit.”
UW has received an oral commitment from one running back for its 2014 class, Taiwan Deal of Hyattsville, Md.
The Badgers also are recruiting JoeMixon, who is from Oakley, Calif., and considered one of the top running backs in the nation.
Clement is among seven freshmen playing this season for UW. The others: cornerback Sojourn Shelton, a starter; reserve wide receiver Robert Wheelwright; reserve linebackers Leon Jacobs and Jack Cichy; reserve safety Joe Ferguson; and reserve cornerback Jakarrie Washington.
White played in 12 games as a freshman in 2010 and rushed for 1,052 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was named Big Ten freshman of the year.
That UW staff didn't promise White immediate playing time, but that was his goal.
“They didn't really let me know, but I told myself I was just going to work hard and make the decision hard on them,” White said. “Go out there and compete with those guys, try to learn my playbook fast. They gave me an opportunity and I tried to run with it.”