Now, granted, it’s not exactly easy replacing Jonathan Taylor, and true freshman Jalen Berger showed a lot of promise, averaging 5.0 yards per carry on 60 attempts with two touchdowns. But looking ahead to the 2021 season, the overall lack of experienced depth in the Badger running back room was a concern.
Berger, with only 87 career snaps, was going to be the workhorse, and after him, we had a lot of question marks. Isaac Guerendo and Brady Schipper each have just 12 career rushing attempts, while Julius Davis has only one. On top of that, both Guerendo and Davis missed most of spring practice with injuries. In addition to those backs, Wisconsin also has a few incoming freshmen as well, including Braelon Allen, who will be taking running back snaps, but again, they are relative unknowns.
However, on June 1st, the Wisconsin running back room received a big boost as former Clemson Tiger Chez Mellusi announced his commitment after taking a visit that same day. Mellusi announced that he would be transferring back in April, and since then, many assumed that the Badgers were his preferred landing spot.
The 5’11” – 190-pound Mellusi is a former four-star recruit who had 71 career rushing attempts during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, playing behind now Jacksonville Jaguar Travis Etienne, and averaged 6.0 yards per rush with six touchdowns. As a pass-catcher, Mellusi recorded five receptions at 7.6 yards per catch with a touchdown.
Coming out of high school, Brian Dohn, a National Recruiting Analyst for 247Sports, had this to say about Mellusi:
“Good build with room to add 10 to 15 pounds. Wide shoulders. Great vision, patience and balance. Adept at one cut and getting up field. Explodes through hole. Changes direction at high rate of speed. Comfortable between tackles. Runs with low pad level. Sets up blocks nicely. Pass catching threat. Tough to tackle at second level. Excellent jump cut. Has to show he can get to the edge and pick up tough yards to move chains. Adding strength in upper body important. Fine-tuning receiving skills increases impact. Multi-year contributor for a high-level Power 5 program. Third-day NFL draft pick.“
Mellusi still has three years of eligibility remaining and will see his fair share of snaps this season alongside Berger, forming what could be a very good one-two punch out of the backfield for Wisconsin. This will undoubtedly provide Graham Mertz and the rest of the offense with a boost as well.
Wisconsin has several other recruiting visits scheduled this month for the 2022 class, but landing Mellusi certainly got the Badgers off on the right foot here in June.