Junior Kenzel Doe has spent his first two years with the University of Wisconsin football team mostly as a slot receiver and returner.
But he showed during the spring game on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium that he might be in line for an even bigger role this season.
With No. 1 wide receiver Jared Abbrederis sitting out the game as a precaution, Doe got a chance to shine and had game highs of eight catches for 93 yards.
Last season, he had 16 receptions for 121 yards, never catching more than three passes or having more than 25 receiving yards in a single game.
Senior tight end Jacob Pedersen said every time he looked up, it seemed like Doe was catching another pass.
“It kind of just really stuck out to me,” Pedersen said. “I thought he made some plays today. He was getting hit a few times, being a small guy, but he popped right back up. I thought he definitely had a really good day.”
UW coach Gary Andersen has quickly taken a liking to Doe’s positive outlook.
“Kenzel’s want-to, every day to compete, is so impressive and it was very apparent again today,” Andersen said.
“He’s very crafty. He showed good hands. For about a week now, he’s really shown solid hands throughout practice, whether it’s routes versus air or a competitive situation. He’s hard to tackle. His love for football brings a smile to my face every day.”
Doe, 5-foot-8, 171 pounds, is regarded mostly as a slot receiver because of his size. Although he wasn’t brought in for interviews after the game, he seems to want more this season. Senior quarterback Curt Phillips, for one, thinks Doe could have a prominent role.
“I think so. He’s someone who has made huge strides throughout the spring,” Phillips said. “I’ve been very excited to see, just his confidence, too. He’s always been talented but now to have the confidence to just go out there and be consistent every day.”
Biegel shows his stuff
Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Vince Biegel finally turned it loose, finishing with two sacks, including a safety.
Biegel started the spring working with the No. 1 defense, but was overtaken by sophomores Joe Schobert and Jesse Hayes the last couple weeks.
But Biegel showed his explosiveness, whipping backup right tackle Riki Kodanko to the outside to be credited with a sack and safety against quarterback Bart Houston. (Quarterbacks were not allowed to be tackled, but the play was whistled dead.)
Andersen said Biegel started to make a move in the practice before the spring game.
“I sat down and evaluated Wednesday’s practice and he jumped out at me,” Andersen said. “And he did again today, made a couple big plays, came around the edge. He looks like he’s playing with more confidence and he’s kind of letting it rip out there. He shined for me.”
Biegel made an impression, too, on senior inside linebacker Chris Borland, who was held out of the game as a precaution.
“He can really rush the passer,” Borland said. “It’s going to be big for us to have depth on the outside linebacker spot. He’ll be able to provide that.”
The fact Biegel was playing faster is an indication he’s starting to get comfortable with the scheme.
“His spot allows him to just be aggressive, pin his ears back and just of rush the passer in certain situations,” Borland said. “That’s his best attribute.”
Shelton shows off
It has been an eye-opening spring for Sojourn Shelton, a freshman cornerbck from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., who enrolled in January.
“His adjustment coming from high school has been impressive, not just on the field but off the field,” Andersen said. “His life flipped upside down. He’s handled it very well.”
In the spring game, it was Shelton who was opening eyes, getting his hands on a couple of passes. While there were no turnovers in the game, with a little more experience by this fall, Shelton believes he could turn one of those chances into an interception.
“I just think I pulled up,” Shelton said of his best chance. “That’s one thing I’m definitely learning. In high school, if someone saw you (in coverage), they wouldn’t throw the ball.
“In college, (the quarterback) will still throw it, having the connection with his receivers. Many times in the fall, I’ll make that play. It’s just a learning experience. I’ll be ready for it in the fall.”
French makes a pair
Junior kicker Kyle French believes he has had a “great spring” overall, it just happened that his low point came in a rainy scrimmage in which the media were in attendance.
French and sophomore Jack Russell combined to go 2-for-8 during a session that day in the middle of the scrimmage, with French the only one who was able to convert.
Both field goal attempts in the spring game were handled by French, who connected from 27 and 24 yards. Despite the short distances, he said it was important for all of the specialists to end on a high note.
“We definitely left that Monday practice on kind of a bad note,” French said. “It was not a great day.
“I think we just let the conditions get to us a little bit. But we definitely wanted to bounce back and just prove ourselves to the rest of the team that we’re going to be reliable for this coming year.”