During the summer doldrums of sports news, many college football fans are starved for news and information regarding their favorite teams.
With that in mind, we at B5Q have decided to take a more detailed look at each walk-on contributor and scholarship player on the Wisconsin Badgers football roster for 2020 in a running feature, our 2020 returnee profiles.
Each weekday we will breakdown one player on the football roster to look back at their recruiting process, their career as a Badger to this juncture and lastly preview their potential contribution to the team in 2020 and beyond.
Up next in our series, Noah Burks.
Name: Noah Burks
Position: outside linebacker
2020 eligibility: redshirt senior
Recruiting info out of HS: 247 composite 3-star, No. 33 outside linebacker, Carmel, Ind.
2016 recruitment: Burks recruitment started all the way back in 2014 when he took an unofficial visit to Purdue in late September. Months later, in December of 2014, Burks received his first scholarship offer from Indiana during his unofficial visit. Shortly after that, Burks started to receive a lot of interest from schools and brought in offers from various programs across the Midwest from both the Big Ten and MAC. Burks received offers from Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois and Western Michigan before eventually getting an offer from Wisconsin in April 2016 during his visit to Madison. Months later Burks committed to Wisconsin and enrolled in June of 2016.
Career statistics: 42 total tackles, two sacks, one interception, one touchdown
2019 statistics: 36 total tackles, two sacks, one interception, one touchdown
Player overview: Noah Burks redshirted in 2016 and saw little of the field in 2017 and 2018. After the departure of Andrew Van Ginkel, Burks came into 2019 with a shot to earn a starting role for the Badgers. Coming into last season Zack Baun was clearly pegged as one of the starting outside linebackers, but who took on the role next to him was up in the air. Burks consistency in fall camp, and into the season earned him some rotation reps before being fully thrust in as the full-time starter early last season. His smart play and ability to play consistent football allowed him to see a ton of action during the 2019 season.
Best case scenario for 2020: Best case scenario for Burks is that he retains his starting spot in 2020 and takes on a bigger role in that position. With Baun gone, Burks likely steps into one of the starting roles at outside linebacker without much hesitation. As mentioned earlier, Burks was a consistent piece in 2019 that you knew what you were getting every time out. His smart play always kept him around the football and allowed him to make plays like he did in his 68 yard pick six against Northwestern. I fully expect Burks to be a starter at outside linebacker, and could be a guy that we see really take that jump up in production like we’ve seen from a lot of Wisconsin linebackers year to year.
Likely role on team in 2020: As mentioned above Burks is your likely started at outside linebacker on one side. His role may remain largely the same, but that isn’t a bad thing. Burks was great in his position last season. One thing that the coaching staff will be looking for in Burks is more havoc in his play. Despite being an outside linebacker, Burks only recorded two sacks last season. Chris Orr and Zack Baun took on most of the pass rush duties, so the sack output isn’t all that glaring, but Jim Leonhard will need one of his outside linebackers to fill that void whether it be Burks, Izayah Green-May, or an outside contender like Spencer Lytle. Whatever role Burks retains, I expect him to see a lot of the field in 2020 and continue to make plays in a higher capacity this fall.