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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Georgia Southern at Wisconsin

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INDIANAPOLIS It is not often a Day 3 pick walks into a building where a pretty clear path is there for future playing time.

But that is the case for Wisconsin center Tanor Bortolini.

It’s unlikely to happen this year, or even next, but at some point in his Colts career, the organization believes he can be Anthony Richardson’s center.

Bortolini played all over at Wisconsin, partly due to a mainstay at center in Joe Tippman, who the Jets took in the 2nd Round of the 2023 Draft. After Tippman, who ended up starting 14 games as a rookie last year, was Wisconsin’s starting center in 2021 and 2022, Bortolini took over those duties this past season.

From 2021-23, Bortolini bounced around to start 8 games at left guard, 3 at right guard and 3 at right tackle.

Then came a 13-year stint at center with the decorated Tippmann off to the NFL.

This type of path could be something we see Bortolini follow at the professional level, too. Bortolini took center snaps during the team’s rookie minicamp this past weekend, but it’ll be interesting to see if he factors into any guard reps this offseason.

With Ryan Kelly, who turns 31 at the end of May, entrenched at center, Bortolini’s 2024 plans will probably come as an interior backup.

Such a plan makes sense because the Colts do feel that Bortolini needs to add strength to his uber athletic skillset.

As Bortolini does that, center life for the Colts post Kelly is something that must be explored. Kelly is a free agent this year, as he plays his 9th NFL season.

That’s where Bortolini could very well get that center torch from Kelly at some point.

And that would be a definite goal of the Colts.

Peyton Manning had a mainstay at center in Jeff Saturday.

Andrew Luck had a revolving door in his early years, before Kelly came in 2016.

Anthony Richardson will start with Kelly, and a potentially smooth transition to Bortolini would be ideal.

“We think he’s got a bright future,” Ballard says of Bortolini. “He started a lot of games at Wisconsin, he played at both tackle positions at one time, he’s played guard, he started at center.

“We think he’s got really good value as an inside-swing guy for us and he’s got a really bright future.”

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