MADISON — For the first time since Wisconsin opened fall camp, the media was allowed in to see a full practice Monday morning.
Here is some of what we saw.
Player of the Day: Skyler Bell
The redshirt freshman had a really nice spring and it appears to have carried over to fall camp. Bell made three really impressive catches in traffic that left the defensive backs upset and shaking their heads. It included attacking the ball on a couple stop routes from Graham Mertz on the sideline, and then making the play of the day by stretching out and grabbing a touchdown from Mertz with a defensive back hanging all over him.
Bell ran with the first-team offense throughout the spring and was there again Monday. While consistency is always important for young players, it appears Bell has a very good chance of being the starter opposite Chimere Dike when the season opens.
The good: Chez Mellusi and Isaac Guerendo
Paul Chryst knew Mellusi and Guerendo would take part in fall camp but he expected them to be limited. After seeing practice Monday, it seems both are doing more than what the coach thought they would be coming in. Mellusi, returning from a torn ACL suffered roughly nine months ago, looked fluid and moving without issue in his few carries during team drills. Guerendo, coming back from an early October foot injury that cost him the rest of the season, showed off his quick burst during a red zone period.
It’s always important to see how guys feel the next day and as camp goes along, but a healthy combo of Mellusi and Guerendo would be a big boost in spelling starter Braelon Allen.
The not so good: Tough injury news
While Mellusi and Guerendo are back, it looks like another guy coming off a season-ending injury will miss even more time. Tight end Cam Large went down last week with a leg injury and he is out indefinitely. The redshirt sophomore tore an ACL against Purdue last October but had been cleared to practice this fall.
Another scholarship player not on the current 110-man camp roster is linebacker Spencer Lytle. He was injured in the spring and did not make enough progress to be included for fall.
NT Keeanu Benton – The players weren’t in pads, but Benton still flashed in a team period, slicing through a double team of center Joe Tippman and guard Michael Furtney to create havoc in the backfield.
WR Dean Engram — The junior moved from cornerback to wide receiver in the spring and made plays nearly every practice. He wasn’t overwhelming Monday but just seems to have a unique feel for route running, especially out of the slot position. In addition to his work on special teams, Engram should have some kind of role in the offense.
Nothing settled at ILB. New coach Mark D'Onofrio appears to be using Chaney/Turner together and Tate Grass and Maema Njongmeta together. I think Turner ends up being one of the guys. https://t.co/97Ydk53bDj
CB Alexander Smith
DL Isaac Townsend
LB Bryan Sanborn
CB Max Lofy
K Vito Calvaruso
Players out for spring:
WR Cam Fane (hand)
TE Cam Large (leg)
OL Travis Alvin (head)
LB Spencer Lytle (leg)
— There were no big splash plays from Graham Mertz but he was accurate and took what the defense gave him, two things he has struggled with at times in his career. His best pass of the day was the touchdown to Bell.
— With Vito Calvaruso being held out, Nate Van Zelst handled all the kicking duties. He made four kicks (an extra point, 28 yards, 34 yards and 38 yards) and missed one (45 yards).
— Engram, Dike and freshman Vinny Anthony got reps returning punts
— Freshman WR Tommy McIntosh used all of his 6-foot-5 frame to go up and grab an out route from Deacon Hill.
— Wisconsin’s top-rated recruit in the 2022 class, Joe Brunner, was working with the third-team offense at left guard.
— Several NFL teams were in attendance, including scouts from the Colts, Bills, Broncos and Patriots
— Former Wisconsin running back Rachid Ibrahim is back as an offensive assistant. A pretty good third-down back in his one year with the Badgers, he spent quite a bit of time working on pass routes with Allen, Mellusi and Guerendo during practice
— Alec James, who started at defensive end for the Badgers in 2016 and 2017, was out on the field watching and working with the DL. He returned to the university in June as the Director of Player Development and Alumni Relations
— Former Badgers quarterback Nate Tice was in attendance. He currently writes and podcasts for The Athletic.
Wisconsin will return to the field for practice on Tuesday. The next practice open to the media is Saturday.