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Freshman Cruickshank adding element of speed to Wisconsin Badgers

Aron Cruickshank might be one of the more unlikely college football players. Forget that he’s from Brooklyn, N.Y., and playing at Wisconsin, the “true” freshman stands just 5-foot-9 and is listed at 154 pounds. Try finding a non-kicker in the NCAA who is lighter — it won’t be easy.

In a quick check of Big Ten rosters, Ohio State has 159-pound freshman cornerback Lloyd McFraquhar, but he hasn’t played this season. The same goes for Rutgers wide receiver Javis Hanks (165 pounds) and Maryland kicker Bentley Faulkner (160 pounds) and defensive back Ken Montgomery (164 pounds). Among lighter players who have seen the field, there’s Michigan State 165-pound safety Tre Person, Northwestern 166-pound defensive back A.J. Hampton and 167-pound wide receiver J.J. Jefferson and Penn State 169-pound wide receiver Jahan Dotson.

Everyone else in the Big Ten weighs 170 pounds or more. In an article posted on its site last year, NCAA.com reported the average weight for a wide receiver in college football in 2017 was 192.13 pounds. So not only is Cruickshank 10 pounds lighter than anyone in the Big Ten who has played in 2018 he’s almost 40 pounds lighter than the average college wideout.

Wisconsin has played Cruickshank in every game thus far — so forget about that redshirt — although he has yet to catch a pass, the Badgers are trying to find ways to get him, and his speed, involved. He’s been Wisconsin’s primary kick returner and is averaging 21.2 yards per return, with two returns of 30+ yards (and a long of 34).

He’s also been given the ball on three jet sweeps, gaining 11 yards against New Mexico, just one yards vs. Nebraska and last Saturday against Illinois he broke one for a 23-yard touchdown.

“It felt amazing and a little bit overwhelming honestly,” said Cruickshank, who was an early enrollee, on getting playing time as a freshman. “It was like the expectation were greater because I came in early but once I just shut everything down and was able to focus on the game, everything came as second nature and finally I got one I was looking for [Saturday].”

Cruickshank, along with another freshman, Isaac Guerendo, are giving the Badgers something not seen too often around Wisconsin — the element of speed.

And they’re only freshmen.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after the first seven games:

“TRUE” FRESHMEN

Travian Blaylock, CB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: FR
Nebraska: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: No tackles, 1 FR

 

Donte Burton, CB
Western Kentucky: 1 tackle (solo)
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: 1 tackle (solo)
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 2 tackles (2 solo)

 

John Chenal, FB
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Aron Cruickshank, WR
Western Kentucky: 1 kick return, 30 yards
New Mexico: 1 rush, 11 yards; 2 kick returns, 32 yards
BYU: 4 kick returns, 84 yards
Iowa: 2 kick returns, 22 yards
Nebraska: 1 rush, 1 yard; 3 kick returns, 90 yards
Michigan: 3 kick returns, 47 yards
Illinois: 1 rush, 23 yards, TD; 1 kick return, 14 yards
Season totals: 3 rushes, 35 yards, TD; 16 kick returns, 339 yards (21.2 avg.)

 

Isaac Guerendo, WR
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Taj Mustapha, WR
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: 1 catch, 3 yards, TD
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals:  1 catch, 3 yards, TD

 

Reggie Pearson, S
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Michigan: Started, 5 tackles (2 solo), TFL, FF
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 5 tackles (2 solo), TFL, FF

 

Cormac Sampson, TE
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Jack Sanborn, ILB
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: 1 tackle (solo)
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: 1 tackle (solo)
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: 4 tackles (2 solo), FF
Season totals: 6 tackles (4 solo), FF

 

Alexander Smith, CB
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: 1 tackle (solo), PBU
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo), PBU

 

Bryson Williams, NT
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: 1 tackle (solo)
Iowa: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: 2 tackles (1 solo)
Season totals: 5 tackles (3 solo)

Rachad Wildgoose, CB
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: 2 tackles (2 solo)
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: 2 tackles (2 solo)
Michigan: Started, 5 tackles (2 solo), PBU
Illinois: Started, 2 tackles (1 solo), PBU
Season totals: 11 tackles (7 solo), 2 PBU

 

Have not played
A.J. Abbott, WR; Nate Carter, QB; Boyd Dietzen, DE; Jack Eschenbach, TE; Jaylan Franklin, OLB; Michael Furtney, OL; C.J. Goetz, DE; Mike Gregoire, WR; Jacob Heyroth, ILB; Andrew Lyons, OL; Isaiah Mullens, DE; Brady Schipper, WR; Conor Schlichting, P; Marty Strey, OLB; Jack Torchio, S; Nakia Watson, RB; Chase Wolf, QB

Out for season
Mason Platter, OLB

 

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN

 

Tyler Beach, OL
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Logan Bruss, OL/TE
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Started, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Started, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Jake Ferguson, TE
Western Kentucky: 4 catches, 43 yards
New Mexico: 1 catch, 4 yards
BYU: 3 catches, 61 yards
Iowa: 4 catches, 58 yards, TD
Nebraska: 4 catches, 47 yards, TD
Michigan: 2 catches, 46 yards
Illinois: Started, 3 catches, 62 yards, TD
Season totals: 21 catches, 321 yards, 3 TD

 

Cade Green, WR
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: n/a

 

Izayah Green-May, OLB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Deron Harrell, CB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Started, 3 tackles (3 solo)
Nebraska: Started, 2 tackles
Michigan: Started, 3 tackles, (2 solo)
Illinois: Started, PBU
Season totals: 8 tackles (5 solo), PBU

 

Matt Hennigsen, DE
Western Kentucky: Started, 4 tackles (1 solo)
New Mexico: Started, 2 tackles (1 solo), TFL
BYU: 2 tackles, QBH
Iowa: 2 tackles
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Started, 6 tackles (3 solo)
Illinois: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo), sack, TFL, QBH
Season totals: 12 tackles (4 solo), sack, 2 TFL, 2 QBH

 

Faion Hicks, CB
Western Kentucky: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo), INT
New Mexico: Started, 1 tackle, PBU
BYU: Started, 5 tackles (3 solo), PBU
Iowa: Started, 4 tackles (4 solo), TFL
Nebraska: Started, 2 tackles
Michigan: 1 tackle (solo)
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 16 tackles (10 solo), 2 PBU, INT, TFL

 

Kayden Lyles, DL
Western Kentucky: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo)
New Mexico: Started, 2 tackles (1 solo), FR
BYU: Started, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Started, 1 tackle (solo)
Nebraska: Started, 1 tackle
Michigan: Started, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 6 tackles (4 solo), FR

 

Scott Nelson, S
Western Kentucky: Started, 7 tackles (5 solo), 2 PBU
New Mexico: Started, 4 tackles (2 solo), INT
BYU: Started, 5 tackles (1 solo) 1.5 TFL, PBU
Iowa: Started, 4 tackles (1 solo), PBU
Nebraska: Started, 5 tackles (3 solo), FF, PBU
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Did not play
Season totals: 25 tackles (12 solo), 5 PBU, 1.5 TFL, INT, FF

 

Josh Seltzner, OL
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Danny Vanden Boom, QB
Western Kentucky: Did not play
New Mexico: 1-for-1 passing, 3 yards, TD
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Did not play
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 1-for-1 passing, 3 yards, TD

Best of the Badgers

Aaron Vopal, DE
Western Kentucky: 1 tackle (solo)
New Mexico: Did not play
BYU: Did not play
Iowa: Did not play
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Did not play
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 1 tackle (solo)


Have not played
Michael Balistreri, DE; Ethan Cesarz, ILB; Jake Collinsworth, FB; Alex Fenton, OL; Hunter Johnson, RB; Collin Larsh, K; Tyler Mais, S; Emmet Perry, WR; Coy Wanner, TE

Out for season
Blake Smithback, OL

 

“TRUE” SOPHOMORES

 

Adam Bay, LS
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: Played, did not record a statistic
BYU: Played, did not record a statistic
Iowa: Played, did not record a statistic
Nebraska: Played, did not record a statistic
Michigan: Played, did not record a statistic
Illinois: Played, did not record a statistic
Season totals: n/a

 

Madison Cone, CB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic
New Mexico: 1 tackle (solo), INT, PBU
BYU: 3 tackles (3 solo)
Iowa: 1 tackle (solo)
Nebraska: 5 tackles (5 solo)
Michigan: 1 tackle
Illinois: Started, did not record a statistic
Season totals: 11 tackles (10 solo), PBU, INT

 

Danny Davis III, WR
Western Kentucky: Did not play (suspended)
New Mexico: Did not play (suspended)
BYU: 4 catches, 40 yards
Iowa: 1 catch, 12 yards, TD
Nebraska: 3 catches, 38 yards
Michigan: 1 catch, 12 yards
Illinois: 4 catches, 48 yards
Season totals: 13 catches, 150 yards, TD

 

Jonathan Taylor, RB
Western Kentucky: Started, 18 rush, 145 yards, 2 TD
New Mexico: Started, 33 rush, 253 yards, 3 TD
BYU: Started, 26 rush, 117 yards; 3 catches, 14 yards
Iowa: Started, 25 rush, 113 yards; 2 catches, 6 yards
Nebraska: Started, 24 rush, 221 yards, 3 TD
Michigan: Started, 17 rush, 101 yards, 0 TD
Illinois: Started, 27 rush, 159 yards; 1 catch, 2 yards
Season totals: 170 rush, 1,109 yards, 8 TD; 6 catches, 22 yards

 

Have not played
Jack Coan, QB

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), 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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