The Wisconsin football team doesn't always land big-time transfers, but the few players who have transferred into the program over the past few years have generally made a big impact.
Everyone knows about the Russell Wilson season in 2011 when the Wisconsin offense added a star grad transfer QB from NC State to an already loaded group and went on to have an insane statistical season.
Since then other transfers have made impacts. Tanner McEvoy came to Wisconsin as a junior college transfer, initially won the starting quarterback job and later was a two-way starter at wide receiver and safety. Ryan Ramczyk transferred to Wisconsin from UW-Stevens Point, won the starting left tackle job after sitting out a year, and is now a potential first-round draft pick.
This year, Wisconsin has a pair of transfer players fresh off of sitting out their transfer year and ready to make an impact — one player on each side of the ball.
On defense, transfer defensive back Nick Nelson is ready to step into one of the starting corner jobs, likely pairing with Derrick Tindal.
Nelson started eight games as a freshman at Hawaii and 13 as a sophomore before transferring. He totaled 87 tackles (67 solo), defended 20 passes and forced a fumble in his two years with the Rainbow Warriors.
He isn't a complete stranger to Wisconsin — in his sophomore year at Hawaii, the Rainbow Warriors traveled to Madison for a night game. Nelson had eight tackles and a defended pass in the game, which Wisconsin won 28-3.
Now he'll get the chance to play at Camp Randall with a motion "W" on his helmet for the Badgers.
Nelson isn't the only transfer who could be an impact player this year — running back Chris James is likely to see plenty of work this year in the Badgers backfield.
James followed current Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst from Pittsburgh, sat out last season, and is now in the midst of a battle for playing time with Bradrick Shaw and Taiwan Deal in the Badgers backfield. With Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale graduated, there's carries to be had for Wisconsin this year.
James played in 12 games as a freshman at Pitt and 10 more as a sophomore. He accumulated 690 yards on 143 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and scored four touchdowns — all in his freshman season.
Wisconsin is no stranger to using two or three running backs and spreading out the carries, so even if James isn't named the starter, he'll have the chance to make a big impact in his first year on the field.
The Badgers have had success in the past with transfer players, and 2017 is no different. Expect both Nelson and James to be impact players for the Badgers.