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Most Important Badgers for 2019, No. 5: Zack Baun

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We are counting down the most important players for UW in 2019 and here is No. 5.

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

To continue our summer of football preview content at Bucky’s 5th Quarter, we are counting down Wisconsin’s Top 10 Most Important Players for the 2019 football season. These aren’t necessarily the “best” players on Wisconsin’s team, although you will find many of those listed, but they have been deemed the most important to Wisconsin’s success this year by our motley crew of writers.

There was much debate via email over who should be on the list and it even resulted in Drew going to Owen’s house and ding dong ditching him. Cooler heads eventually prevailed and now we have our final list to present to you.

Here is No. 5 on that list: Linebacker Zack Baun

2018 stats: Started all 13 games at outside linebacker, was the Badgers third leading tackler with 63 stops, 37 total solo tackles, recorded 2.5 sacks and 7.5 TFL’s.

2018 year in review: Linebacker Zack Baun was a vital part of the 2018 Wisconsin defense. Starting all 13 games for the Badgers, Baun was the third leading tackler behind the likes of T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly (pretty good players iirc). While the sack numbers we’re a little low, most of that can be attributed to the fact that Wisconsin had a lot of talented rushers, and with Baun’s versatility he was able to drop in pass coverage more frequently. Despite that, he still had one of the higher graded pass rushes by PFF College. Last year Baun showed the talent everyone expected him to have after a 2017 season that he missed due to a foot injury, and he will have an even bigger role in 2019.

2019 year in preview: In 2019, Baun will have to be the leader of, not only, an inexperienced linebacker corps but a young defense in general. Fellow senior Chris Orr will be part of that linebacking corps, but after that the bulk of the defense is sophomores and juniors. There are a variety of young guys to try and replace Andrew Van Ginkel, Connelley, and Edwards. Baun will take on a new role in leadership, and I expect a big jump in production as well. Baun could very well finish the season as the Badgers leading tackler and nobody would be surprised. His speed and athleticism makes him very difficult to block and keep in front of you. I think the place you’ll see the biggest jump is in sacks and tackle for losses. Baun will spend a little more time in opponents’ backfields in 2019, which is bad news for them and good news for the Badgers.