MADISON -- This season was to be a big one for Warren Herring. The redshirt senior nose guard had waited his turn and was expected to make a big impact on Wisconsin's defense this season, anchoring the defensive line and bringing back more experience than anyone. After an impressive spring, Herring was itching to get out on the field Aug. 30 vs. LSU.
Herring started the season opener in Houston and recorded a career-high four tackles before injury struck, the worst thing that could happen to a redshirt senior waiting for his time to shine. After undergoing right knee surgery, Herring has been rehabbing and anxiously waiting for his return.
"I'm feeling good. [The knee] is not nagging me anymore," Herring said. "I've been itching [to play] since day one. I feel ready to go."
Herring said that his situation is still a wait-and-see scenario. He is still day-to-day headed into the Maryland game on Oct. 25, but time is on his side given the Badgers have a bye week this week. Herring has ditched the knee brace that he wore the past few weeks following surgery, though he's yet to practice with the team.
"I've been doing some strengthening things, doing a bit of running, some technique and fundamental work, and hitting the bag," Herring said. "I haven't been able to go up against our o-line, so [I'm] waiting for that."
Herring is known to be one of the most vocal players on defense, and he also has a sense of humor. He said the offensive line hasn't prodded him about not being on the field because, in his words, "they know better."
More seriously, Herring said he realized after the injury his role would have to change. Not being on the field meant he had to help some of the young defensive linemen like Arthur Goldberg and Connor Sheehy from the sideline. The time off the field has also helped Herring recognize what offensive lines are doing against the Badger defense.
"[I'm] communicating what I see to the field," he said. "You can kind of see what o-lineman are doing. On the field, it is a whole lot faster. [I'm also] doing what I can to keep the guys at a high intensity level."
Like a good leader, Herring doesn't see himself as a one-man band. He said that while he may be a more vocal leader, many players like Michael Caputo, Derek Landisch and Marcus Trotter are leading by example out on the field. The redshirt senior said those guys are providing others on defense like Peniel Jean to make plays. He doesn't feel they get enough credit for their efforts.
"There is a lot of untalked about leaders on the team," Herring said. "They give a lot of great effort. I'm proud to be a part of a defense like that.
"I'm doing as much as I can to be a leader as far as leading vocally. Obviously I can't lead by example like I want to."
Herring also had high praise for Konrad Zagzebski and his ability to be a versatile part of the defense line. The nose guard said he hasn't had to help Zagzebski out much because he is an intelligent play and understands what is going on.
While Herring doesn't know for sure if he will be out on the field against Maryland, he does know his return can't come soon enough. With a monster smile on his face, he talked about what it will be like to see the field again.
"[I'm] itching. I'm trying to make a play. I'm trying to make a statement."