Quietly, Landisch Makes an Impact

He was probably the least recognizable name among Wisconsin's 2011 linebacker commits, but true freshman Derek Landisch and his high motor have allowed him to not only see the field, but have an impact on it.

MADISON - One of the first tasks Dave Huxtable took on after arriving from Central Florida to take Wisconsin's linebacker job this past winter was to study the film of his returning players, a process he needed to undertake to better coach them in spring practices.

When that lengthy process was completed, Huxtable starting putting in film of his incoming freshman, trying to get a sense for what he was going to have to work with in the fall. When he popped in the tape of Hartland Arrowhead senior Derek Landisch, Huxtable was drawn to another player he just got done watching.

"He reminded me of Chris Borland, but not because of the jersey," said Huxtable, as Landisch wore No.44 for the Warhawks. "He played real fast and he carried that into fall camp."

Landisch was the true freshman least recognizable in Wisconsin's 2011 recruiting class next to four-star linebacker Jake Keefer and Pewaukee's Derek Watt, the younger brother of former Badgers defensive end J.J. Watt, but is just one of six true freshmen to contribute this season because his motor had never sputtered in neutral.

"I am an undersized guy (5-11), so I have to make it up with my speed and my motor and my work ethic," Landisch said. "That's something I try to focus in on every day. Coach Huxtable talks about winning every play (and) competing each and every play, and that's what I try to do day in and day out."

The comparisons to Borland, who won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2009 as a true freshman, have already started despite the fact Landisch wears No.30. After making his college debut in the season opener on kickoff and punt return, Landisch worked his way into the defensive rotation against Oregon State, and responded by making a career-high three tackles in the 35-0 victory. So far, Landisch has found his name on the stat sheet in all three games with five tackles.

"I've gotten a lot of positive comments, but there is always room for improvement," said Landisch, who is working behind Mike Taylor and Conor O'Neill at weakside linebacker. "You just have to go in, look at the film and work on your mistakes. So far, it's been some good and some bad."

The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state selection by a number of publications, Landisch made 92 tackles with 27 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a senior and showed that same intuitiveness during fall camp, leading special teams coordinator DeMontie Cross to approach Landisch about playing right way.

It's a tough decision for a freshman to burn a year of eligibility just on special teams, but it gave Landisch the opportunity to adjust to the speed and physicality of the game, especially if he was needed on defense if an injury happened.

"I just try to make a good name for myself playing on defense even if I didn't know a lot of the plays early in camp," Landisch said. "I just want to help this team any way that I can, whether it's on special teams or on the second-team defense."

As for the Borland comparisons, Landisch isn't biting on the fact that he is the next Borland. He just wants to be the first Landisch.

"Chris has proved himself on the college level, and that's something that I haven't done yet," Landisch said. "He's someone I look up to because of our similar size and he helps me out a lot by showing me what it takes to succeed on this level."

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