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Wisconsin Badgers 2018 Spring Football Preview: Outside Linebackers

Wisconsin must replace two starting Outside Linebackers for the 2nd straight season, can they get the same results this time around?

Whether or not the weather will cooperate, the Wisconsin Badgers have rung Spring in with a few practices to date. Along with that we continue to dive in to every position and give you the need-to-know information for the 2018 version of the Badgers.

Previous Previews: Quarterback | Cornerback | Offensive Line | Defensive Line | Wide Receiver | Inside Linebacker |

Up today is a look at a position that has been the star of the Badgers program over much of the last five years — outside linebacker.

Inside Linebacker Preview:

Returning Starter(s): none

Other Scholarship Players: Andrew Van Ginkel (Sr.); Arrington Farrar (Sr.); Noah Burks (So.); Christian Bell (So.); Zack Baun (Jr.); Tyler Johnson (Jr.); Izayah Green-May (Fr.)

 

Reason to Watch This Position: Plug and Play Continues?

Ever since the Badgers made the switch to the 3-4 scheme under former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, the Badgers have been lucky enough to basically plug-and-play at outside linebacker. There have been multiple occasions where the Badgers have replaced both starting outside linebackers and actually gotten better production out of the position the very next year.

Will that happen this season? The good news is that this is a loaded group, deep in talent and has some experience behind it as well. Van Ginkel will lead the way and was a really good reserve last season (39 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, 2 INT’s), while the Badgers will also get a penciled-in starter from last season back in Zack Baun. There’s also Christian Bell and former safety turned inside linebacker turned outside linebacker — Arrington Farrar.

It seems like this group has the talent to not miss a beat once again, but will that stay the case after we see this group moving up a step on the playing time ladder? The good news is we should get a pretty good idea considering the talent that is across the field on the offensive line for UW.

Player to Watch: Zack Baun

Going in to last season it appeared that Baun was going to at the very least get major snaps at outside linebacker and may have wound up as the starter opposite of Garrett Dooley. Instead, one strange foot injury later and Baun was out for the entirety of the 2017 season. He’s healthy this spring and appears ready to show why he would’ve been a big player last year.

With the underrated and production-heavy Leon Jacobs off to the NFL Draft process, Baun needs to show he can step in and help a defense that will be replacing seven starters to not miss a beat. Let’s see if he can gain his starting spot back or will a challenge from the likes of Farrar or Christian Bell make it difficult for him to get that spot back?

Projected Depth Chart:

OLB: Andrew Van Ginkel, Christian Bell
OLB: Zack Baun, Arrington Farrar

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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