Levy reaching his expectations

True freshman linebacker earns backup role with strong fall camp

When true freshmen get their first taste of Division I-A college football, there are some pretty standard adjustments from high school. The college game is, of course, faster, more physical and more mentally tasking.

DeAndre Levy, however, was surprised to find that the physical portion of the game really was not a big adjustment for him.

"I've got pretty much what I expected," Levy said of his first fall camp at the University of Wisconsin. "It's not as physical as I would think. It's a lot more mental like everyone's telling me."

"I thought I would be a lot more banged up right now," Levy said. "I mean this is a lot more physical than high school but I feel that… I was just a little bit more prepared than I thought… I expected to be a lot more hurt than (I am) right now."

Levy anticipated being more banged up because he is used to playing through injuries. He had surgery in June to repair an umbilical hernia and muscle tears in his hip flexor and groin. Those injuries occurred during the second game of his senior season at Milwaukee Vincent last year, but he never missed a game, not even after coming down with a Staph infection later in the season.

Levy said he did not have complications from his June surgery and that the hernia and muscle injuries were completely healed.

"Yeah that's what I wasn't expecting," he said. "I wasn't expecting to be able to compete physically because I thought that would be a problem for me, but it didn't bother me at all…

"I'm 100 percent right now."

For the first time in a year, Levy does not need to play through serious pain.

"That feels great," he said. "That's probably why I'm prepared right there. I'm used to playing with all the injuries. But now I don't even think about it."

What Levy was expecting was to compete immediately, and that is exactly what he has done.

A 6-foot-3, 220-pound weakside "will" linebacker, Levy runs like a safety and proved to be a physical player during camp. In the last week of camp, Levy appeared to establish himself as senior Dontez Sanders' backup at will. He was also a second-team nickel linebacker.

"We're trying to get the best athletes on the field to play," Sanders said. "So I'm not really surprised to have a freshman backing me up. I'm not too shocked."

"Of course my goal is to eventually become a No.1," Levy said. "But as of right now I'm happy and where I expected to be, being a No. 2."

Levy was far from an under-the-radar recruit. He was a three-star prospect and the No. 78 linebacker in the country last year, according to Scout.com. But with Travis Beckum, the nation's No. 1 defensive end prospect, playing sam linebacker, and Elijah Hodge, the No. 16 linebacker prospect playing mike linebacker, Levy was a bit overshadowed in UW's 2005 recruiting class.

"I've been impressed with how Levy's been playing," Sanders said. "Levy is physical. He's a quiet guy, so when he does something good he really doesn't talk about it, so people really don't see him much. But Levy's good."

Levy, Hodge and Beckum played together as a unit often during camp and were the Badgers' predominant second-team linebackers the last week of camp.

"We all bonded real well," Levy said. "We knew coming in here we (would) go through the same things…. especially since we are playing in the same corps together. A couple years from now we hopefully will be doing something special, get some national recognition."

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