Badgers: Jake Renfro, Isaiah Mullens close to returning to action

Wisconsin could get two potential starters back in time for its Big Ten opener against Purdue this Friday.

Coach Luke Fickell was asked about the status of center Jake Renfro and defensive lineman Isaiah Mullens, each of whom have missed the first three games of the season due to injury.

“I would hope maybe this week,” Fickell said Monday. “If not this week, I would definitely expect that after the bye that, unless something else happens, that would be a definite time they should be back in there.”

A transfer that came with Fickell from Cincinnati, Renfro missed all of last season with an injury. He started the spring as the No. 1 center but a foot injury sidelined him. The junior appeared to be rounding into form early in fall camp before another foot injury knocked him out of practice. His absence has left junior Tanor Bortolini as the starting center. He’s been able to hold down the spot, but is probably better suited to play guard.

“We’d like to get Jake Renfro back and maybe give us some more versatility there with (Bortolini),” Fickell said as part of another answer regarding the offensive line.

A sixth-year senior, Mullens had a knee scope during fall camp, just the latest injury to pop up and impact his playing time. He was limited to seven games last year, including three starts. Wisconsin could use his size and experience along a defensive line that is still feeling the loss of Keeanu Benton to the NFL.

The Badgers have opened the season 2-1 and will be looking to start Big Ten play 1-0 for the first time since 2020 when they travel to face the Boilermakers. Kick on Friday is set for 6 p.m.