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Wisconsin hires Bobby April III as outside linebackers coach

The Badgers fill a key vacancy

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images for New York Jets

The Wisconsin Badgers announced on Wednesday that Bobby April III will be their new outside linebackers coach, filling their 10th assistant coaching position.

April coached in the NFL for six seasons, including stops with the Buffalo Bills (2015–16 as outside linebackers coach), New York Jets (2013–14 as a quality control assistant in ‘13 before bumping up to linebackers coach in ‘14), and as a quality control assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles (2011–12).

In Buffalo, linebackers Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown, claimed All-Pro honors and were named to the Pro Bowl.

“What’s always appealed to me about Wisconsin football is the way the players play with a chip on their shoulder and how tough mentally and physically they are,” April said in a statement released by Wisconsin. “The attitude of the program and the fans, the excitement of the city is incomparable.

“The defense speaks for itself over the last five seasons. It’s been dominant. I just want to come in here and help it get better. The players are young and hungry, which is exciting to see. With Coach Chryst, he’s an unbelievable coach but a more unbelievable person. He’s brought on guys that share his values and it’s a great thing to be a part of.”

As noted in Mike Lucas’s article on Wednesday, there are some connections between April and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. The former walk-on turned 10-year NFL pro played on the Bills from 2005–07 with April’s father, Bobby April, Jr., coaching special teams. April, Jr., is a two-time NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year.

Leonhard led a defense under the direction of former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator and New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan from 2008–12. April III coached Buffalo’s outside linebackers on Ryan’s staff during the two seasons previously noted.

The younger April also has worked at the collegiate level. Starting as a student assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette in 2004, he then worked as a grad assistant at Tulane from 2005–06 and as an inside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator at Portland State from 2007–09.

Before moving up to the NFL, he also coached the secondary and was special teams coordinator at Nicholls State for the 2010 season.

“We’re excited to add Bobby to the staff,” head coach Paul Chryst said in the release. “He brings great knowledge and passion for the game of football. His experience will help our players grow and is a great fit for our defensive staff room.”

April will replace former outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar, who mentored the likes of Joe Schobert, T.J. Watt, Vince Biegel, Leon Jacobs, and Garret Dooley from 2015–17 before moving on to become Oregon State’s defensive coordinator.

The new assistant will be tasked to mold and develop the likes of Andrew Van Ginkel, walk-on Tyler Johnson, Zack Baun, and Christian Bell at the position group with outgoing seniors Jacobs and Dooley pursuing the NFL.