Badgers: Danny Davis ready to go, Chez Mellusi gets the call at RB and Joe Tippmann will start at center

Wisconsin will have its top wide receiver when it opens the season Saturday against No. 19 Penn State.

Senior Danny Davis missed a week and a half of practice after sustaining a head injury Aug. 18 but is feeling better now and ready to go.

“I just got banged up a little bit with the head. Wasn’t anything too bad, nothing too serious, more precautionary and wanting to be smart,” Davis said Monday. “Had a little bit of a headache, but it was just me taking care of myself, taking care of my head, making sure I’m here for week one and throughout this season. I didn’t want to rush anything back. I feel good now. Just been working and finally getting to get back and do things I love to do.”

Davis admitted he was a little concerned initially when the injury happened. The Ohio product missed the final five games of last season due to a concussion. But he said he wasn’t diagnosed with a concussion this time and was able to start working himself back into drills last week after missing at least five practices.

“It was big for me just to get back into the flow of things because a week and a half off can be tough just sitting there not being able to do anything,” Davis said. “I feel great right now, the body feels good and the legs feel good, so I’m just excited to get out there and attack this week one.”

In addition to Davis being ready to go, left tackle Tyler Beach is also prepared to play against Penn State. He had foot surgery just before the start of fall camp and didn’t start taking part in contact drills until last Monday. But he was listed with the starting group and will be on the field against the Nittany Lions.

Mellusi gets the call

The lone mild surprise on the depth chart released Monday was Clemson transfer Chez Mellusi being listed as the No. 1 running back over redshirt freshman Jalen Berger.

Mellusi was a backup at Clemson the last two years after coming to the Tigers as a 4-star recruit. He ran for 427 yards (6.0 yards per carry) and scored six touchdowns on the ground. He also caught five passes and another score.

Mellusi and Berger shared time with the first-team offense during fall camp and are likely to see a similar amount of touches during the season, but coach Paul Chryst went with the older and more experienced Mellusi to open things.

“I think what he’s done is he’s been really consistent. That, I think, means a lot,” Chryst said. “As you know or could easily guess, I still think we’re in a position where we’ve got to have a number of backs play and play well.”

Chryst said that would include Berger and junior Isaac Guerendo, along with chances for true freshman Braelon Allen and senior Brady Schipper.

Joe Tippmann at center

Wisconsin returned its starting center from last year in Kayden Lyles, but the senior won’t be with the first-team offense come Saturday. Offensive line coach decided to go with sophomore Joe Tippmann, who took over for Lyles midway through fall camp and hasn’t given the spot up. He’s got an admirer in quarterback Graham Mertz, who also just so happens to be his roommate.

“He’s just a fricking mauler,” Mertz said. “He’s up there, he’s making decisions, we’re all on the same page and he fricking flies. He’s just head down and [goes]. Man-on-man, I’m taking Joe Tippmann. He is a fricking mauler.”

Tippmann missed last season due to a shoulder injury and did not take part in spring practice. He’s appeared in two games and will join right guard Jack Nelson in making their first career starts against Penn State.

True freshmen that could play

In addition to Allen, who will see time on special teams, Chryst mentioned safety Hunter Wohler and wide receiver Markus Allen as true freshmen that will play this year. Wohler will likely contribute on special teams, while Allen is “in the depth” among the receivers.

Chryst added that several others are pushing for opportunities.