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Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

RB Bradrick Shaw granted sixth season, won’t use it at Wisconsin

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The Wisconsin Badgers football program annually churns out highly-productive running backs. Friday, however, one of their current backs has taken the first step to being a former back.

On his personal Twitter account, Bradrick Shaw confirmed that he has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA thanks to a medical hardship waiver.  The back won’t be using that additional season with the Wisconsin Badgers football team, however, as Shaw further announced that he is entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Shaw, who has already earned two degrees from the university, will be immediately eligible to play for another FBS school in 2020.

“At this point in my life and my football career, it is best for me to pursue opportunities to play football elsewhere,” Shaw wrote. “I will forever be a Badgers and cherish these awesome memories for the rest of my life!”

Shaw came to the Wisconsin Badgers football team as a three-star 2015 signee.  He was rated as the No. 16 player regardless of position in the state of Alabama.  The back took a redshirt as a true freshman, then missed the entire 2018 season because of a knee injury.

In 2016, Shaw was third on the Badgers in rushing with 457 yards and tied for second in rushing touchdowns with five.  The following season, his 365 yards and four scores were both second behind Jonathan Taylor‘s 1,977 and 13 as a true freshman.

Coming off the injury, Shaw ran for 116 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in 2019.  All told, Shaw carried the ball 202 times for 938 yards and 10 touchdowns during his time with the Badgers.

Shaw’s social-media announcement comes exactly three weeks after Taylor confirmed he will be leaving UW early for the 2020 NFL Draft.  With the departures of Taylor and Shaw, the Badgers’ leading returning rushers in 2020 will be freshman Nakia Watson (331 yards) and junior Garrett Groshek (194).  UW also has a commitment from four-star 2020 running back Jalen Berger.

Wisconsin receiver Aron Cruickshank transfers to Rutgers

Wisconsin receiver Aron Cruickshank is transferring to Rutgers.
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Former Wisconsin wide receiver Aron Cruickshank may be leaving the Badgers, but he will remain in the Big Ten. Cruickshank announced he is transferring to Rutgers.

Cruickshank confirmed his transfer to Rutgers with a post on his Instagram account on Saturday afternoon. According to NJ.com, Cruickshank was making an official visit to Rutgers this weekend. The visit must have gone well because he announced his transfer decision on the same day. Cruickshank announced his entry to the transfer portal earlier this month.

This is a nice addition for new (again) Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano. If the hiring of Schiano was supposed to entice more talent in and around The Garden State to want to stay close to home to play Big Ten football, then the transfer decision of Cruickshank is an encouraging start for the Scarlet Knights. Cruickshank is a Brooklyn, New York native, and Rutgers does love to attach itself to the New York metropolitan region.

Cruickshank appeared in all 14 games played by Wisconsin in the 2019 season, including all 12 regular-season games, the Big Ten championship game, and the Rose Bowl. Cruickshank was used mostly on special teams with 23 kickoff returns for 674 yards and two touchdowns. Cruickshank had one of his kickoff touchdowns in the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon. He returned four kickoffs for 194 yards in the game. He also returned one kickoff to the house earlier in the season at Nebraska.

Cruickshank will have to sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer rules. That will leave the former Badgers receiver with two years of eligibility beginning in 2021.

Friday Night Lights: Wisconsin and Indiana 2020 opener moved up a day

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Wisconsin and Indiana are 24 hours closer to their first college football game of the 2020 season than previously scheduled. The Badgers and Hoosiers will play their season opener in Madison, Wisconsin on Friday, Sept. 4. The 2020 opener between the two Big Ten schools was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5.

No TV and official kickoff time have been released yet. Moving up the date of the opener likely will have the game being played on either ESPN, FOX Sports 1 or Big Ten Network. In 2016, the Big Ten announced a plan to begin providing some conference-owned games for Friday nights as part of a new media partnership with FOX and ESPN.

Wisconsin was among the first Big Ten schools to host a Friday night game as part of the new agreement when the Badgers hosted Utah State in its 2017 season opener. Rutgers also hosted Washington the same night. The following week, Purdue hosted Ohio State in Week 2 on a Friday night. Illinois also hosted Nebraska for a Friday nigh conference game in late September 2017.

Wisconsin WR Aron Cruickshank confirms move to portal

Aron Cruickshank
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This decision by Aron Cruickshank decidedly serves as a surprise.

Given the early departure of Quintez Cephus for the 2020 NFL Draft and A.J. Taylor‘s expired eligibility, Cruickshank was primed for an increased role in Wisconsin’s passing game in 2020.  Instead, the wide receiver has decided to make his way into the NCAA transfer database.

The wide receiver confirmed his intentions on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Barring something out of the ordinary, Cruickshank will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.  That would leave him the two years of eligibility he mentioned in the tweet starting with the 2021 season.

Coming out of high school in Brooklyn, Cruickshank was a three-star 2018 signee.  He scored four touchdowns during his time with the Badgers — two rushing (one in both 2018 and 2019) and two on kick returns.  Both of those kick-return scores came in 2019, including one in the Rose Bowl loss to Oregon earlier this month.

Just two players in Badgers history, Ira Matthews (1976) and Nick Davis (1999), have returned two kicks or touchdowns in the same season.

Cruickshank, incidentally, is the second UW player to enter the portal this month.  On Twitter late last week, Christian Bell announced he was leaving as a graduate transfer.