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2018 Wisconsin outside linebackers preview: More winds of change on defense

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Some unproven faces will be asked to step up at outside linebacker opposite Andrew Van Ginkel.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin’s 2018 Outside Linebackers

2018 Spring OLB 2018 Eligibility
2018 Spring OLB 2018 Eligibility
Andrew Van Ginkel R-SR
Zack Baun R-JR
Tyler Johnson R-JR
Christian Bell R-SO
Arrington Farrar SR
Noah Burks R-SO
Hegeman Tiedt R-SO
Paul Jackson R-SR
Izayah Green-May R-FR

Note: We have now updated the 2018 outside linebackers, as the official spring roster was released on March 12. Arrington Farrar and Paul Jackson moved to this position group.

2017 Leaders

Leon Jacobs (60 tackles, 10 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 FF, 2 FR)
Garret Dooley (39 tackles, 10.5 TFLs, 6 sacks)
Andrew Van Ginkel (39 tackles, 10 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 TD, 2 FF, 1 FR)

Who’s Leaving

Leon Jacobs
Garret Dooley

Key Additions

C.J. Goetz (Catholic Memorial)
Mason Platter (Menomonee)

Position Overview

The Badgers will look to continue their trend of developing talented depth at the outside linebacker position that has been talent-rich since the switch to the 3-4 in 2013. Joe Schobert, Vince Biegel, T.J. Watt, Garret Dooley, and Leon Jacobs have all excelled and will be in the NFL on opening day this upcoming season.

However, only one significant contributor from last year will be coming back, and on top of the transitional turnover, the position group is now under the direction of former NFL assistant coach Bobby April III.

Wisconsin hired April—who coached for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills—back in early February and he takes over for Tim Tibesar, who moved out to Corvallis to become the defensive coordinator at Oregon State.

Andrew Van Ginkel really burst onto the scene last season with 39 tackles (10 for loss), 6.5 sacks, and two interceptions, including one for a touchdown in the Big Ten Championship Game.

After that, there are some question marks. Zack Baun, a former high school quarterback, played well in a reserve role in 2016 before missing all of last year due to injury. We will see where Baun is with his recovery, as he told B5Q back in late December that he should be available for spring practice.

Tyler Johnson, a walk-on and former high school quarterback himself, drew some high praise from Tibesar last season while also forcing two fumbles, one on a strip sack in the win at Illinios. The other name to really watch this upcoming season is Christian Bell, an Alabama transfer and high school teammate of Bradrick Shaw at Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala.

After that, the other names at the position are Noah Burks, Izayah Green-May, and Hegeman Tiedt. Burks has played both linebacker positions and will get his work in on special teams. Green-May is still a project who is putting on mass, but could be a pass-rush specialist in time. Tiedt is a walk-on who started on the defensive line.

On Thursday, the Wisconsin State Journal’s Jason Galloway reported that the 2018 spring roster was released online through UWBadgers.com, though a UW official told the Badgers beat writer that it was not “finalized.”

On that list however, will-be senior Arrington Farrar along with Paul Jackson moved to April’s position group from inside linebacker and wide receiver, respectively. Farrar would be playing his third position in as many years if the switch is confirmed, as he moved to inside linebacker from safety last spring. Jackson joined the team last season.

For now, we will keep them off until the official spring roster is released to the public next week.