March 7, 2007

Spring outlook: Running backs

It's hard to imagine, but next week the Wisconsin Badgers football team will hit the field again for spring practice. In preparation for spring football, intends to bring fans up to speed by breaking down each playing group leading up to the first practice. In this preview we take a look at the running backs.

MADISON, Wis. - Last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year is out, leaving sophomore running back Lance Smith first-string duties this spring.

P.J. Hill, the Badgers' star sophomore, will be out of commission all spring because he's recovering from shoulder surgery, which means Smith is the only scholarship running back remaining on the roster.

With Smith receiving more reps this spring, the hope is that he will become more confident in the system. Last season, Smith had a tendency to look impatient when finding a hole at the line of scrimmage, instead forcing himself to go full-speed which usually resulted in short yardage.

Without any other scholarship running backs available, the Badgers will rely on sophomore walk-on Tyler Holland, who played cornerback and special teams last season to back up Smith.

As for the fullbacks, the Badgers will be without junior Chris Pressley, who hasn't been cleared to participate since sustaining a lower leg injury early last fall. That should leave junior Bill Rentmeester with most of the reps, while junior Joshua Neal, a former linebacker, could start where he left off last season as a reserve fullback.

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