With another impressive season behind him, senior outside linebacker Joe Schobert will look to finish out his storybook career this season for Wisconsin with a bang. Originally planning on playing at North Dakota, his performance in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association all-star game led to a walk-on opportunity with the Badgers. Playing in 27 games and registering 93 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and four sacks in the last two seasons, Schobert is now a scholarship player and one of the best outside linebackers in the Big Ten West.
Strengths: Schobert has plenty of strengths working in his favor this season. His surprising quickness for an OLB and instinctiveness make him a threat play in and play out. Look for Schobert to use those traits in order to get around opposing linemen and disrupt plays as they develop in the backfield and also make plays dropping back into pass coverage. He has the ability to bust plays up really quick.
Weaknesses: Trying to find a nit-picking weaknesses, it seems as though Schobert does lack certain technique that is needed to play linebacker. His sacks and TFLs are good, but he hasn’t finished plays in pass coverage. While he had seven passes defended a season ago, Schobert has yet to register an interception. He also forced only two fumbles on his 13.5 tackles for loss last season. The ability to create turnovers is something that could make UW’s defense even more effective.
Why he is #8: Schobert breaks the top ten simply for the fact that the defense would not run effectively without him. After a terrific 2014 season, the coaching staff will be in good hands if Schobert does anything like he did a season ago. Not only does Schobert have the experience, his impressive athletic ability to give him the tools to become one of the elite linebackers this season.
Overall: With plenty of bright sparks to his game, Schobert will need to play another terrific season if he wants to make his mark on the Big Ten. Schobert certainly has the ability and potential, but it will be a matter of his playmaking ability if he wants to remain a critical piece of the puzzle on the defense this upcoming season. Badgers fans are lucky to be able to see Schobert combine with junior Vince Biegel to provide one of the best one-two punches at the OLB position. His potential should make fans truly excited to watch not just the defense, but the linebackers as a whole.