There was an interesting post written by the excellent Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin from yesterday on how Wisconsin and Ohio State have different recruiting tactics. The gist basically is, star ratings in high school aren't always (but often are) indicative of how well a player will turn out to be.
The Badgers are known to take under-the-radar guys and turn them into all-conference performers. Dan Voltz was our highest rated recruit on the 2014 all-B1G team, and he was a four-star guard turned center. Anyways, what I think my point is here, is that I'm amazed weekly by how well former Badgers are playing in the NFL. They were undervalued coming out of high school and many of them were undervalued coming out of college. The resilience they show is awesome and is something any Badger fan should be proud.
On to the stats and kick-ass highlights of Nick Toon running over entire families of Pittsburgh Steelers!
Toon only had two catches on Sunday for 17 yards, but he scored his first career touchdown and it was a doozy.
The Saints also beat the Steelers 35-32 and are really starting to ruin my dream of a 6-10 NFC South champion making the Super Bowl.
Meanwhile, the inimitable J.J. Watt was in Houston single-handedly beating the Titans. Watt had his third receiving touchdown of the season (and fifth overall) while controlling the Titans offense from his defensive end position. He had three tackles, two sacks (one of which was a strip sack), a recovered fumble and six quarterback hits according to the ESPN box score. This dude is a joy to watch play football.
A number of Badgers played on Thanksgiving, most notably tackling robot Chris Borland's 49ers took on Russell Wilson and his Seahawks. While Seattle came away with the 19-3 win, it was through no fault of Borland's. He recorded a measly 16 tackles (1 for loss) in the game and also blessed us with his soccer talent.
What can't he do!?!?
Wilson was his usual model of efficiency, going 15-of-22 for 236 yards and a TD while adding 35 yards on the ground. He did fumble twice, but they were both recovered by the 'Hawks, so no harm no foul I suppose. O'Brien Schofield got in on the fumble action for Seattle, forcing AND recovering one while recording a tackle to boot.
DeAndre Levy continued his quietly brilliant season with the Lions, racking up 10 tackles (two for loss) and a pass defended. He is currently tied for second in the league with 116 tackles this year. Only Luke Kuechly is ahead of him and he plays for the Panthers and their defense is always on the field.
One of my favorite all-time Badgers, Jim Leonhard had a brilliant game for the Browns on Sunday. The pride of Flambeau High School in Tony, Wisconsin recorded five tackles, two passes defended and a pick to help Cleveland not lost by more than 16. (Sorry Jim, the Browns were pretty bad this week, that was the nicest way I could put it.) I didn't look up the linemen stats, but I'd wager Joe Thomas had a good game. He usually does.
Jonathan Casillas notched two tackles for the Patriots in their showdown/potential Super Bowl preview with the Packers. While Scott Tolzien looked sharp on the sidelines holding a clipboard for the Pack.
Owen Daniels snagged two balls for 30 yards in the Ravens' heartbreaking one point loss to the Chargers. Unrelated to the Badgers, but did you know Manti Te'o starts for San Diego? I'm happy that after all the catfish malarkey he went through he's been able to become a starting NFL linebacker.
The Eagles triumphed over the Cowboys 33-10 on Thanksgiving in a beat down so bad, Jerry Jones wouldn't even have let a stripper do it to him. And that's my Slack's Hoagie Shack Slam of the Game! A reference that I bet exactly none of the people reading this get, unless you attended multiple mid-90's 76ers game. Chris Maragos had one tackle for the Birds and Nick Hayden had one (for a loss) as well. Travis Frederick even got in on the action, notching a tackle after one of Dallas' 1,000 turnovers.