Spring football can play an important role in any player’s development but it may not have bigger for any member of the Wisconsin football roster than junior T.J. Watt, who appears to be the key second outside linebacker starter opposite Vince Biegel.
Moved from tight end to defense last August in part to try to help limit some of his lower leg injuries, Watt’s development was so rapid that he was playing a vital role as a third-down pass rusher by season’s end, making the transition look easy.
“The last three games of the year when he got his reps and opportunities he was playing at a level as good as anybody that we had,” outside linebacker coach Tim Tibesar said. “To see him continue to grow this offseason not only with the winter workouts and drill work and the extra work … he’s a highly disciplined guy and he’s going out every day trying to do something that’s going make him a better player. In spring practice he got an opportunity to go with the ones from day one ... He’s a legitimate linebacker out there for us. He can play the run, he can pass rush and he can play coverage.”
Replacing the production of Big Ten linebacker of the year Joe Schobert will be difficult but the passion and work ethic that Watt possesses gives Wisconsin a chance to avoid taking a step back. There’s confidence that the combination of Watt and Biegel could be just as good as when Biegel and Schobert combined for 33.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks a year ago for the top scoring defense in the country.
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July 27 - Quarterbacks
July 28 - Running Backs
July 29 - Fullbacks
July 30 - Wide Receivers
July 31 - Tight End
August 1 - Offensive Line
August 3 - Defensive Line