With the departure of both Leo Chanel and Jack Sanborn to the NFL, Wisconsin’s defensive group has to retool and replace the linebacker core. “Death row” as Leo Chanel liked to call it, was the Nations best linebacker duo last season and left some major shoes to fill.
Star on the Edge
Just like Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin has another NFL talent who will be lining up outside. OLB Nick Herbig displayed his talents last season, and the hope this year is to build off that. Herbig has already received some NFL buzz as one of the top linebacker prospects for next years 2023 draft. The Hawaiian native had a breakout season and looks to continue on that success. Here’s one of my favorite plays from last season’s bowl game where he completely dominates the right tackle.
that Nick Herbig guy can play pic.twitter.com/hIC7e8faQe
— Ben Kenney (@benzkenney) December 31, 2021
Another thing I love about Herbig is his willingness to buy in. A video on his social media showed Herbig touring the nation’s No. 1 LB Tausili Akana, who is also a Hawaiian native. Look for Herbig to have another great season.
Other Projected Starters
Opposite of Herbig will be redshirt senior C.J. Goetz. Goetz is a guy who we saw a little bit of last season, who should jump into a major starting role this year. One thing that I have always noticed about Goetz is his high motor. Every snap he is full throttle until the whistle blows. He had a nice game against Iowa last season and recorded 2 sacks on the year in total.
The inside linebacker position is where the starters get tricky. You will see a multitude of guys try and fill in this role, and might even see multiple different starters. However, on day one I think the starters will be Tatum Grass and Jordan Turner.
Tatum Grass is the latest Wisconsin walk on to receive a full scholarship and earned his spot in the lineup with an impressive spring. Jordan Turner is a guy we saw make a great impact with the limited time he saw last season. In back to back weeks in November, Turner had an interception against both Rutgers and Northwestern.
More so then most years, the backups at these positions will be key to the Wisconsin defense success. Two young guys who have been on the radar this spring are Kaden Johnson and TJ Bollers. Both guys were noted having a couple of really good days this spring, and could help with the lack of depth at this position.
Finally, the depth at inside linebacker. This front seven will have to be a complete team effort this season, and a few names to look out for inside are Jake Chaney and Spencer Lytle. Spencer Lytle to me is the most intriguing, being a highly touted St. John Bosco product. Jake Chaney is an undersized inside linebacker at just 5’11 225 pounds, he still managed to see the field last season. Look for him to have a bigger role this upcoming season.
I am excited for this new challenge ahead of Jim Leonhard with this front seven group. With a lot of talent to replace, look for Nick Herbig to lead the way with this young and hungry linebacker group.
Follow me on Twitter @gamble_griffin3 and follow @DylanBuboltz for the offensive position previews. @WiSportsHeroics Click below to read more of our articles and keep up to date on the latest in Wisconsin sports! Also, check out our merch store for some amazing WSH merchandise!