Position: Defensive End
Commitment Date: 1/25/16
Finished two-year varsity career with 117 tackles, 20 TFLs and 7.5 sacks … first-team all-state by Associated Press and Wisconsin Football Coaches Association as a senior, recording 69 tackles, 11 TFLs and 4.5 sacks … first-team All-Fox River Classic Conference as a junior and senior … all-region by WFCA as a junior and senior … as a junior, recorded 48 tackles, 9 TFLs and 3 sacks … team captain as a senior … three-year varsity starter in basketball.
Vopal committed to Wisconsin early, declining early offers from Buffalo, Iowa State and New Mexico to live his dream of playing for his home-state school.
“I was honored to give them my commitment because I believe I made the right decision. I didn’t really think about being the only (end in the class). I was just expecting they would bring in other guys, but when they elaborated and said that I was the only defensive end they were going to bring in on scholarship, it’s truly eye opening for me. It justifies my decision to commit earlier than usual because that they really wanted me here, it’s just not an offer they hope I take.”
“It’s just reassurance that I chose the right place to go. I loved the atmosphere that this school brings.”
"You do feel good that he’s a big, athletic kid. We were around him a lot this summer. He committed early and came to spring practices, but this winter when we went back up to his house and saw him, he put on some weight and looked like good weight. He’s one you are going to start on defense and see where it goes. He can do a number of things. There are a lot of guys in this class that can be a number of different things, and to me that’s a good quality." head coach Paul Chryst
“He was about 250 pounds when we offered him and he’s gotten bigger. He’s 6-7 and 290 now. I told him to just let your body go and see what happens. He said he wants to get down to 280 pounds before he checks in, but he’s an impressive athlete. You watch him on the basketball court, you watch his junior film, he’s just a big athletic kid. He came to camp for a day and you watch him strike, it was good to see because he’s a powerful kid.” – defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield
Having a strong motor in his 6-7 frame, Vopal has been able to consistently find his way into opposing backfields. A big kid who uses his height to get into passing lanes and bats a lot of passes, Vopal was able to improve upon his junior numbers as a senior, increasing his TFL and sacks numbers by his ability to disengage from blockers. Vopal gives good effort in pursuit, runs a lot of things down for a guy of his size and does well keeping contain on the edge
While he has already made significant progress in the weight department, Vopal will need to continue to get stronger, learn technique and how to use his arms in order to get around his blocker. Once he learns these things from Breckterfield, he’ll be difficult to stop from creating pressure around the edge or tying up blockers to open up opportunities for the linebackers. Vopal is similar in size to Isaiahh Loudermilk, and the two could form a solid duo moving forward as disruptive pass rushers with the ability to deflect passes at the line.
I saw Vopal play live at the beginning of September against a no-huddle, fast-paced, quick-throw offense that didn’t allow him much opportunity to get into the backfield to make plays. That made his performance that much more impressive to me.
With Brecketfield in attendance for the first half, Vopal’s biggest strength was his conditioning. Save for kickoff coverage, Vopal never left the field. He played every offensive snap and every defensive snap until there was eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and the game had been decided. Considering the Trojans didn’t pause long enough for the Redbirds defense to catch their breath, that’s really impressive.
Vopal is a really solid player with a lot of intangibles that stand out, but fans shouldn’t expect to see him this season, especially with the Badgers being blessed with tremendous depth at the end position. Even so, Vopal’s three biggest traits are his toughness, athleticism and workmanlike approach – three traits that the Wisconsin program is known for.