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Kayden Lyles-position battles-guard

Kayden Lyles (76) goes through a drill during a University of Wisconsin football practice.

Leading up to the start of fall camp Aug. 1, State Journal beat writer Jason Galloway will break down the University of Wisconsin’s top five position battles for the upcoming season. Today, in Part 1, he takes a look at the Badgers’ offensive guards.

DEPARTING

  • Michael Deiter
  • Beau Benzschawel
  • Micah Kapoi

Deiter and Benzscawel started a combined 103 games for the Badgers and made up one of the best run-blocking guard combinations in the country last season.

The Miami Dolphins selected Deiter in the third round of the NFL Draft in April, while Benzschawel signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent.

UW also lost Kapoi, a reserve who played in 49 games and started 14 throughout his career.

THE FAVORITES

  • Kayden Lyles, sophomore
  • Jason Erdmann, senior

Lyles started seven games as a redshirt freshman at defensive end for the Badgers last season — a one-year “internship” as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph described it.

The temporary move helped to shore up one of the team’s thinnest positions, but Lyles came to UW as a highly ranked offensive line recruit, and that’s where his long-term future lies.

Erdmann has seen playing time in the past, but his only start came as a blocking tight end last season. It may finally be time for him to step into a regular first-team role.

IN THE RUNNING

  • Logan Bruss, sophomore
  • David Moorman, senior

Both Bruss and Moorman may end up at tackle, and Bruss is currently the favorite to start at right tackle, but both took some reps at guard during spring practice and have the ability to play on the interior.

Moorman, a fifth-year senior who hasn’t seen any meaningful playing time on offense in his career, impressed Rudolph this spring and could at least serve as a versatile depth piece.

Bruss started the final three games of last season at right tackle with David Edwards out due to injury.

DARK HORSE

  • Josh Seltzner, sophomore

It may be selling Seltzner a bit short to call him a dark horse for one of the two starting guard spots. The Badgers like what they’ve seen from the former walk-on who earned a scholarship last season.

The Columbus, Wis., native earned some first-team reps this spring and could legitimately compete with Lyles and Erdmann this fall.

EXPECTATIONS

Under no circumstances will it be easy to replace NFL talents like Deiter and Benzschawel, but UW does still return enough promising — yet inexperienced — players to replace them.

The Badgers will once again rely heavily on the running game with tailback Jonathan Taylor back for at least one more season, and whoever starts at guard needs to limit any drop-off at the position.

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