Highly touted 2017 recruit Kayden Lyles will play nose tackle for the University of Wisconsin this fall, according to UW.
Many projected the 6-foot-3, 323-pound Middleton High product as a future centerpiece on the interior of the Badgers’ offensive line, and he earned the bulk of second-team reps during spring practice earlier this year.
With depth thin on the other side of the ball, however, UW opted for a position change.
The Badgers lost senior defensive ends Chikwe Obasih, Conor Sheehy and Alec James from last season.
Their projected starters at that position this year are currently out, too. Junior Garrett Rand suffered a season-ending injury this summer, and sophomore Isaiahh Loudermilk could miss the start of the season as well.
Lyles, however, will provide more depth at nose tackle — where true freshman Bryson Williams took second-team reps this spring. Olive Sagapolu enters his fourth year as a starter at the position, while Rand could have filled in at nose as well.
“When we were using Lyles as a freshman for a defensive lineman, helping us get fits in practice drills, he gave us the best look,” UW senior offensive lineman Michael Deiter told uwbadgers.com. “He’s smart enough to learn all the stuff on the defensive line by the start of camp. He’s good at bending and he’s athletic enough. He will definitely be able to help us out.”
Lyles, a redshirt freshman, also saw snaps at nose tackle for Middleton High in 2016.
It remains unknown whether Lyles’ switch will become permanent or if he’ll compete for a starting spot on the offensive line in 2019.