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.
Today is all about Mike Maskalunas.
Name: Mike Maskalunas
Position: inside linebacker
2020 eligibility: redshirt senior
Recruiting info out of HS: Unranked, outside linebacker, Long Grove, Ill.
2016 recruitment: Despite leading his high school to an undefeated state championship as the team captain, the collegiate opportunities were limited for Mike Maskalunas. A three sport athlete that also shined in basketball and baseball, the 6-foot-3 linebacker chose to walk-on at Wisconsin to play for the Badgers.
Career statistics: 46 games played, 31 tackles, one tackle for a loss, two fumble recoveries
2019 statistics: 14 games played, 16 tackles, one fumble recovery
Player overview: A throwback to the older generation, Maskalunas embraces the look of the cowboy collar, and isn’t afraid to hit anyone in his way. After a redshirt season in 2016, Maskalunas began earning praise from the coaching staff and teammates for his tenacity and work on the scout team.
Stuck behind a logjam of NFL caliber inside linebackers, the Illinois native was relegated to multiple special teams units for both the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In 2019, Maskalunas cracked the two-deep, and saw time not only in special teams, but also at inside linebacker at times.
Best case scenario for 2020: After biding his time in the program, Maskalunas uses his experience, smarts and toughness to make things interesting in fall camp for the starting inside linebacker spot next to Jack Sanborn. Maskalunas splits time with youngster Leo Chenal, and the Badgers form a nice trio of capable inside backers that play meaningful snaps in 2020.
Likely role on team in 2020: Maskalunas will be in the two-deep at inside linebacker in some capacity barring something unforeseen taking place. Now entering his senior season, he will be battling with Leo Chenal for a starting spot on the defense.
While Chenal is the odds-on favorite to assume the spot, Maskalunas should see playing time as well, and should not be overlooked.
No matter his placement in the rotation at inside linebacker come the opener against Indiana, Maskalunas should continue to be a valuable asset in special teams, and his wealth of experience should go a long way in helping the team in 2020.