Max Siker/BadgerNation

Jack Cichy and Chris Orr will anchor the spot while T.J. Edwards recovers from a foot injury

The ninth of BadgerNation's 12 part series, we look at the Wisconsin inside linebackers and the three-man tandem that could create big headaches for opposing offenses.

When asked about the depth Wisconsin has at the interior of its defense, considering the Badgers return three young players who made big contributions in 2015, Chris Orr couldn’t hide the smile. He knew that the Badgers surprised a lot of people last season by seeing two freshmen and a little used walk-on dominate in the middle of the best scoring defense in college football.

“You can say hard work pays off,” Orr said. “We heard all that talk coming into the season, how we had freshmen in there and that teams were going to run it down our throats. That just pushed us to work even harder.”

The big question a year ago is which players were going to step up and fill the shoes left by seniors Derek Landisch and Marcus Trotter. The worries grew even greater as camp progressed when the two projected starters – T.J. Edwards and Leon Jacobs – were sidelined with injuries.

When the season ended, Edwards led the defense in tackles last season (84) and was a Freshman All-American, Orr proved to be ahead of the curve and junior Jack Cichy was the defensive most valuable player of the Holiday Bowl after recording his team-best nine tackles – not to mention three sacks on three consecutive plays – in just one half of football.

One after another last season somebody answered the bell for an injured inside linebacker. In camp it was Orr and redshirt freshman Ryan Connelly. During the season it was first Orr for Jacobs and then Cichy for Orr in October.

So considering Edwards will miss an undetermined amount of time after suffering a foot injury during summer workouts and Jacobs now working at fullback, the Badgers ...

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Past Features 

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

August 4 - Outside Linebackers 

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