It seems like the Wisconsin Badgers defense is always flying under the radar, despite consistently being one of the best units in the Big 10. Last season, Wisconsin only allowed teams to go for 305 yards per game and ranked sixth in the nation by giving up 16.3 points per game. This season, however, the Badgers are in dire need of production from the safety position after losing Tanner McEvoy to a position change. Redshirt junior Michael Caputo will fill one of those spots, but the other could belong to true freshman Austin Hudson, who, much like the entire Wisconsin defense, has been flying under the radar.
Hudson was not a very sought-after recruit coming out of high school. Ranked 272nd by 247Sports.com in state of Florida alone, Hudson used a one-day high school camp last summer to impress Wisconsin’s coaching staff and eventually landed himself in Madison. He enrolled early this spring, receiving valuable reps at safety, which is paying off now more than he probably expected.
On top of McEvoy moving to quarterback this season, expected 2014 starter Reggie Mitchell transferred to Pittsburgh, and potential junior college transfer Donnell Vercher was allegedly not accepted to the university. As the dominoes fell for the Badgers at safety, in stepped Hudson, who now sits on top of the depth chart heading into fall camp and has the opportunity to spring up from the list unknowns and onto the field to compete with one of college football’s best defenses.
Coach Gary Anderson expressed concern in his secondary’s overall athleticism, which just might be Hudson’s biggest contribution this season. His closing speed is a tremendous asset, making him available on the field for just about every situation. And Anderson is certainly not afraid to throw a true freshman into the mix. Sojourn Shelton played at corner last season for the Badgers, recording 31 tackles and five pass break-ups.
In this case for Wisconsin, starting Hudson as a true freshman seems to become a smaller and smaller risk as time goes on and his skill and impact on the field become more apparent. It would only be fitting that an under-the-radar player helps the Wisconsin defense this season.