The Wisconsin Badgers have seen a lot of turnover, both with outgoing and incoming players, this offseason, and no position has seen more than the linebacker position.
On the outgoing side, the Badgers are losing top rotational pieces Jordan Turner and Maema Njongmeta at inside linebacker, as the former is transferring to Michigan State, while the latter is not returning for a sixth season.
As a result, the Badgers brought in Jahsiah Galvin from Northern Iowa and most recently, Sebastian Cheeks from UNC, to fill in the needed depth at the position.
At outside linebacker, the Badgers are losing C.J. Goetz, who is out of eligibility, weakening a group that struggled in 2023.
As a result, the Badgers brought in transfers Leon Lowery and John Pius to fill out depth at the position, with the former showcasing potential at Syracuse, while the latter has been a top talent at the FCS level over the past two seasons.
At inside linebacker, there is clear trend with the position, as the Badgers seem to be targeting players that fit more of the hybrid type, rather than their traditional linebackers.
Galvin was a former defensive back in high school, while Cheeks possesses the versatility, but hasn’t gotten the playing time to show it at UNC.
They could be fits for Mike Tressel’s preferred dime and dollar packages, which weren’t utilized much in 2023, given Wisconsin’s personnel.
With two top linebackers gone, both players could look to fit into the two-deep behind my expected starters: Jake Chaney and Christian Alliegro.
I’m intrigued to see how this position shakes out, as the Badgers have a ton of younger talent that will be looking to earn playing time, but may just not be the best fits for Mike Tressel’s defense.
At outside linebacker, the Badgers got both a nice developmental piece, as well as a veteran, established player in Leon Lowery and John Pius, respectively, and both should compete for playing time immediately.
As an early projection, I would expect at least one of those players to start at outside linebacker, and both could even earn spots, depending on their growth in Tressel’s system over the offseason.
Regardless of what happens, it was clear that the Badgers viewed linebacker as a priority this offseason, as they attacked both the inside and outside positions, and got talent at both.
They may not be done adding talent, as USC transfer linebacker Tackett Curtis has been a target, among others. But, the Badgers did gain needed depth ahead of the spring.