Cephus emerging as Badgers’ top wide receiver

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Before the season began, you’d likely have found most people to think that Jazz Peavy was going to be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Wisconsin Badgers this season.

Through three games, and especially after the BYU game, that thinking certainly has changed.

While Peavy has struggled to be a part of Wisconsin’s offense (four receptions for 56 yards), Quintez Cephus has suddenly emerged as the top target for Alex Hornibrook not named Troy Fumagalli (although against BYU, Cephus had five targets to Fumagalli’s two).

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On the season, Cephus (13) and Fumagalli (23) are the only Badgers with double-digit targets after three games.

Cephus has displayed his toughness, good hands and leaping ability (he did play basketball, you know) in Wisconsin’s early games. In the win over the Cougars, he had a career-high five receptions — he had four all of last year as a freshman — for 54 yards with two touchdowns, giving him three of the Badgers’ eight receiving TDs (Fumagalli also has three).

Score this as a big win for Wisconsin’s recruiting, and specifically Ted Gilmore. Cephus was known more for his basketball prowess than football and had committed to Furman. Football teams (at least not of the FBS variety) weren’t sniffing around — but Gilmore saw something, made an offer and Cephus committed. Then, as he proceeded to have a good year as a high school senior, big-name football programs started offering him scholarships, but it was too late.

For years, Wisconsin has tried to recruit a top-notch wide receiver, and more often than not they haven’t, relying on those who were originally walk-ons (i.e. Jared Abbederis, Alex Erickson) and struggling to come up with even a solid No. 2.

The last non-walk-on to catch 50 or more passes in a season was Nick Toon (64) in 2011, and he obviously had connections to Wisconsin and was from Middleton. Going back further for a non-Wisconsin high school player, Garrett Graham had 51 in 2009, but he was a tight end. The last wide receiver the Badgers had who wasn’t from the state of Wisconsin with 50+ catches was Brandon Williams (59) in 2006.

But with Cephus (10 catches), fellow sophomore A.J. Taylor (6) and freshman Danny Davis (3), the future appears to be bright — and very productive — at wide receiver.

Here’s the complete rundown from the first three games of the season:

“TRUE” FRESHMEN
Adam Bay, LS
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Jack Coan, QB
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: 1 for 1 passing, 6 yards
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Madison Cone, CB
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Did not play
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Danny Davis, WR
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Started, 1 catch, 35 yards; 1 rush 1 yard
BYU: 2 catches, 67 yards

Jonathan Taylor, RB
Utah State: 9 rushes, 87 yards, TD
Florida Atlantic: Started, 26 rushes, 223 yards, 3 TDs
BYU: Started, 18 rushes, 128 yards, TD

Have not played
Michael Balistreri, DE; Tyler Beach, OL; Logan Bruss, OL; Ethan Cesarz, ILB; Jake Collinsworth, ILB; Sam DeLany, WR; Alex Fenton, OL; Jake Ferguson, TE; Izayah Green-May, OLB; Matt Hennigsen, DE; Faion Hicks, CB; Hunter Johnson, RB; Collin Larsh, K; Kayden Lyles, OL; Tyler Mais, S; Scott Nelson, S; Emmet Perry, WR; Josh Seltzner, OL; Blake Smithback, OL; Danny Vanden Boom, QB; Aaron Vopal, OL; Coy Wanner, TE

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN
Christian Bell, OLB
Utah State: 1 tackle (solo)
Florida Atlantic: Did not play
BYU: 1 tackle (solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 FF

Luke Benzschawel, TE
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Tyler Biadasz, C
Utah State: Started, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Started, did not record a statistic
BYU: Started, did not record a statistic

Noah Burks, OLB
Utah State: 1 tackle (solo), 1 QBH
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Did not play

Eric Burrell, S
Utah State: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

BADGERS DATABASES

Dontye Carriere-Williams, CB
Utah State: 5 tackles (2 solo)
Florida Atlantic: 1 tackle (solo), 1 PBU
BYU: 8 tackles (6 solo), INT

Seth Currens, S
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: 1 tackle
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Jack Dunn, WR
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Garrett Groshek, RB
Utah State: 2 rushes, 29 yards, TD; 1 tackle (solo)
Florida Atlantic: 5 rushes, 10 yards; 1 catch, 6 yards; 1 tackle
BYU: 9 carries, 43 yards; 1 tackle

Patrick Kasl, OL
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Isaiahh Loudermilk, DE
Utah State: 3 tackles (2 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: 2 tackles (1 solo)

Mike Maskalunas, ILB
Utah State: 1 tackle, 1 FR
Florida Atlantic: 1 tackle (solo)
BYU: 2 tackles (1 solo), 1 TFL

Keldrick Preston, DE
Utah State: 1 tackle (solo), 1 QBH
Florida Atlantic: Did not play
BYU: Did not play

Kendrick Pryor, WR
Utah State: Did not play
Florida Atlantic: Did not play
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Cole Van Lanen, OL
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic

Caesar Williams, CB
Utah State: 1 tackle (solo)
Florida Atlantic: Did not play
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic


Have not played
Josh Bernhagen, LS; Cade Green, WR; Deron Harrell, WR; Adam Krumholz, WR; Gabe Lloyd, TE; Kare Lyles, QB; Hegeman Tiedt, OLB; Cristian Volpentesta, CB

Injured, out for season
Sam Brodner, RB; Mason Stokke, ILB

“TRUE” SOPHOMORES
Quintez Cephus, WR
Utah State: Started; 3 catches, 31 yards, TD
Florida Atlantic: 2 catches, 47 yards
BYU: Started, 5 catches, 54 yards, 2 TDs

David Edwards, RT
Utah State: Started, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Started, did not record a statistic
BYU: Started, did not record a statistic

Patrick Johnson, S
Utah State: Played, did not record a statistic
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Did not play

Anthony Lotti, P
Utah State: 3 punts, 129 yards (43.0 average)
Florida Atlantic: 5 punts, 191 yards (38.2 average)
BYU: 2 punts, 93 yards (46.5 average)

Garrett Rand, DE
Utah State: 1 QBH
Florida Atlantic: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: 1 PBU

Bradrick Shaw, RB
Utah State: Started; 18 rushes, 84 yards, 1 TD; 1 catch, 10 yards
Florida Atlantic: Did not play
BYU: 4 carries, 19 yards

A.J. Taylor, WR
Utah State: 3 catches, 38 yards; 2 kick returns, 46 yards
Florida Atlantic: 1 kick return, 21 yards
BYU: 3 catches, 34 yards, TD

Have not played
Griffin Grady, ILB

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow, Facing Ted Williams — Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns

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