Wisconsin Football Spring Questions: Safeties

Spring training begins next week for the Wisconsin Badgers.

With several key roster changes and a revamped coaching staff, this spring will give us our first look at what next year’s football team could look like when they open up against the State of the… ‘Illinois on September 3.

Previous spring previews:

Today, our position-by-position look at the top issues heading into the spring for Wisconsin football keeps us on the defensive with the safeties.

Can Hunter Wohler land a starting spot as a true sophomore?

The Wisconsin Badgers are replacing their two starting safeties this offseason, with Collin Wilder and Scott Nelson both to give the NFL a chance.

While veteran options such as John Torchio and Travian Blaylock will no doubt compete for starting roles, second Hunter Wohler is the name to watch this spring.

One of the most decorated defensive backs in Wisconsin High School football history, Wohler played in all 13 games as a true rookie a year ago and recorded 17 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack.

The Badgers have a long tradition of players not wearing red shirts in their first year on campus and getting a starting role in their second year, and Wohler could be next.

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A formidable athlete with the speed to run from sideline to sideline, Wohler is a big hitter with the perfect size for the safety position. Jim Leonhard has spoken enthusiastically about Hunter in the past, and after a strong freshman campaign, his standing in the safe room has only gotten better.

Assuming Hunter Wohler can stay healthy and produce this spring, I expect great things from the former two-time state champion and Wisconsin Gatorade Player of the Year.

Wisconsin safety John Torchio returns an interception against Northwestern.

Can the “jewel thief” continue to generate turnover?

While Hunter Wohler was a highly sought-after freshman coming out of high school, John Torchio took a different route to potentially earning a starting role in 2022.

Coming out of high school, Torchio turned down a scholarship offer from Cal to walk with the Badgers.

After being redshirted in 2018, the Campolindo High School (California) product broke out at fall camp and ended up playing in eight games, including a debut as a redshirt rookie.

Since that time, Torchio has been a constant presence in Wisconsin’s safety rotation. More importantly, he showed a knack for generating turnovers, earning him the nickname “jewel thief” by his teammates and coaching staff.

Torchio always seems to be around the ball and plays explosively. In 2021, he finished sixth on the team with 35 tackles and added a team-high three interceptions.

With the two starting safety spots up for grabs, if Torchio can maintain his propensity for creating chaos, it will be difficult to keep him off the pitch in 2022.