MADISON, Wis. The first opportunity for Wisconsin football fans to see the team's new coaching regime and its players in action has been set. Athletic officials announced Monday that Wisconsin's spring game would be held Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m.
The game will serve as the culmination of the Badgers' spring practice season under new coach Gary Andersen. Spring practices begin on Saturday, March. 9.
Thus far, Andersen has spent the bulk of his time as coach shoring up Wisconsin's recruits for the Class of 2013. On Monday, the Badgers received a surprise commitment from quarterback Tanner McEvoy, one of the top junior college signal callers in the country, to add to an already crowded quarterback room. Wisconsin brings back Curt Phillips, Joel Stave, Danny O'Brien and adds Bart Houston into the mix for playing time next season.
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez praised Andersen for his recruiting efforts in a short period of time on Monday and perhaps offered yet another subtle dig at former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how Gary and his staff have come in, wrapped their arms around recruiting," Alvarez said. "(They have) been able to secure our recruiting class, hold things secure within the state, hold things secure with those who had committed previously and with their ties go out and find a few other players that really adds to this class. Yes, recruiting is the lifeblood of your program.
"Even though we made a coaching change, I don't see we dropped in recruiting. As a matter of fact, we maybe took a step up."
Andersen will begin his tenure as coach with a slew of talented players from last year's team, which won its third consecutive Big Ten championship. Running backs James White and Melvin Gordon return on offense, as does wide receiver Jared Abbrederis and tight end Jacob Pedersen. Defensively, the Badgers bring back six of their front seven from a year ago, including linebacker Chris Borland and defensive linemen David Gilbert and Beau Allen.
Andersen comes to Madison after guiding Utah State to a school-record 11 victories in 2012. He was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award and led the Aggies to their first outright league title since 1936.
Alvarez indicated he thought fans would be intrigued by what style of play Andersen will bring for the team's spring game.
"Of course the quarterback battle certainly adds a little more interest to it," Alvarez said. "But I don't think that's the only thing. Although that's what most people want to talk about."
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