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Badgers football: David Edwards provides crucial depth at two positions

August 15, 2016 GMT

While much was made of the University of Wisconsin’s offensive line injuries last season, the tight ends were often in the same situation.

Troy Fumagalli was forced from some early-season action due to ankle and thumb injuries, Austin Traylor missed nearly half the year with a broken arm and Eric Steffes didn’t remain completely healthy, either.

Traylor’s now gone, and despite a more experienced group up front, UW continues to mull over its options along the offensive line’s second unit.

Luckily for the Badgers, they might have stumbled upon someone who can provide depth in both areas.

After showing promise as a tight end this spring, redshirt freshman David Edwards moved to offensive line in the summer and has already earned first- and second-team reps at right tackle during fall camp.

“It was toward the beginning of summer conditioning and I was gaining a little weight,” said Edwards, who now weighs about 290 pounds after coming to UW last year at 240. “I always kind of knew this was a possibility. It was kind of a smooth transition.”

The switch has instantly given the Badgers another solid option at right tackle, something they may have been missing behind starter Jacob Maxwell.

Some of Maxwell’s contact reps have remained limited during camp after he underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his foot earlier this summer. That’s opened the door for Edwards to gain plenty of reps during his first practices at the position, and he’s impressed the coaching staff thus far.

“He’s done a really good job,” said Joe Rudolph, the team’s offensive coordinator who also handles the line. “David is a talented kid. A lot of people would ask late in the summer, ‘Why the move?’ You could just tell where his body was going. We talked a lot as a staff. He might go out there and play tight end for us in a bunch of games, and if we need him to play tackle, we feel like he can play tackle and do a great job of that.”

That versatility Edwards now possesses could be vital for UW, and Rudolph described him as providing “hidden depth” at tight end.

Redshirt freshman Kyle Penniston appears to be the only other viable candidate to produce at tight end this season behind Fumagalli and Steffes, and Edwards’ ability to switch back and forth will make for much less panic if injuries set in again.

“I think the luxury we have is Coach Rudolph and I are on the same page so much with our terminology and how we teach things, so whether he’s doing a cutoff block from tackle or tight end, it’s a lot of the same coaching points,” UW tight ends coach Mickey Turner said. “It won’t be a hard change for him.

“I thought he could be a good tight end, but I know he can be a good O-lineman, too. Dave’s a guy that didn’t even miss a beat. He’s just happy to be here and work his tail off and get a chance to contribute. A big body like that, he’s going to help inside somewhere. We just wanted to give him an opportunity.”

Sanders to transfer

Wide receiver Krenwick Sanders plans to transfer and was granted his release on Sunday, according to a school official.

The news was first reported by 247sports.

Sanders, who would have been a redshirt sophomore this season, was one of two scholarship players who did not make the Badgers’ 105-man fall camp roster.

He was a three-star recruit in the 2014 recruiting class. He caught one pass for 10 yards as a true freshman before redshirting last season.

If Sanders remains at the Division I level, he will have to sit out this season and have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2017. If not, he will be able to play immediately and have three years remaining.

First look at Lyles

UW used Sunday as a developmental day, so most starters and veterans weren’t on the practice field.

That gave true freshman quarterback Kare Lyles, who missed spring practice with a hip injury, the opportunity to take a heavy dose of team and 7-on-7 reps that he wouldn’t normally receive as the No. 3 quarterback.

Lyles completed 5 of 12 passes in team drills and went 7-for-12 during 7-on-7.

He threw deep touchdown passes to Ricky Finco and A.J. Taylor in team drills and added three more scores during a 7-on-7 red zone period.

From the infirmary

Offensive lineman Logan Schmidt and inside linebacker Mason Stokke missed practice due to head injuries.

Other players who remain out include safety Keelon Brookins (groin), offensive linemen Jon Dietzen (head) and George Panos (right shoulder) and inside linebackers T.J. Edwards (left foot) and Nick Thomas (head).

Running back Corey Clement (right leg), offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel (left shoulder) and wide receiver Jazz Peavy (chest) are still limited.

Vander Kelen dies

Ron Vander Kelen, an All-Big Ten quarterback selection in 1962 who led a huge comeback in the 42-37 loss to USC in the 1963 Rose Bowl, died of natural causes. He was 76.

Despite the loss, he was named the game’s MVP. He threw for 401 yards, helping the Badgers score 23 points in the fourth quarter to nearly overturn a 28-point deficit.

Eleven of his completions for 163 yards were to future school athletic director Pat Richter.

Vander Kelen, a Preble native, was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1991.

— With wire services

Extra points

True freshmen safeties Patrick Johnson and Eric Burrell each picked off redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook in the end zone during 7-on-7 drills. … Hornibrook completed 13 of 19 passes during team drills and 6 of 12 passes during 7-on-7. Redshirt senior Bart Houston did not participate. … Finco impressed with catches of 60 and 75 yards during team drills but also dropped another long pass that Hornibrook dropped into his hands.