Camping with the Badgers 2013: Linebackers

That's right, you're seeing this happening… We're all of nine days away from the start of fall football camp in 2013!! You know that means we're going to be taking a look at what you need to know heading into camp too and that means our 2nd annual "Camping with the Badgers" series is up and running. Over the next eight days we'll preview every position group. 

So, prepare for the start of Badger football with our in-depth look at each position group. Up first is a look at the one group that has fans and us in the media the least worried - Linebackers. 

Sit down with your favorite camp side chair and let us give you a look at what you need to know about this group heading into camp. 

Good News:

Chris Borland is back, that's all you need to know. No, seriously, the guy is one of the best linebackers we've ever seen at the UW and it's his final season in the Cardinal and White. He also earned the praise of his head coach this past week as Andersen called Borland "the best linebacker in the country." 

Maybe there's some hyperbole and some motivation attached to that statement, but that's probably about .1% of it as Andersen doesn't come across as someone who blows smoke at you. 

The other good news is that this position group is LOADED and EXPERIENCED. In fact outside of one of the outside linebacker spots the two deep could be occupied by all seniors. One could make an argument that this team is three deep at just about every position and that's really good news.

Bad News:

Hard to say there is bad news at this position group, but maybe it's the fact that UW loses former All-Big Ten linebacker Mike Taylor? Truthfully speaking though Taylor isn't a fit for the 3-4 defense at outside linebacker and in reality his loss isn't as big as one might have expected because of how deep this team is at the LB spots.

Questions Entering Camp:

Who Lines up Opposite of Kelly? Brendan Kelly is an assumed starter at one of the outside linebacker spots, but it could be a real battle opposite of him and expect it to come down to redshirt freshman Vince Biegel and sophomore Joe Schobert. Both do opposite things well from what we've seen so far and it could be an interesting battle early on in camp. 

Can Kelly Make the Quick Transition? While we say Kelly is an assumed starter the truth is that's based on what we've seen in the past from Kelly and we haven't seen him play a down in the new 3-4 defense. Early in camp it will be important for him to show the coaches that all the mental reps he took in spring and what he's been able to do this summer can carry over when the pads come on and things are flying for real. No doubt he'll live up to it, but there has to be at least that question in the back of the minds of everyone watching as camp opens.

Players to Watch:

Joe Schobert - Schobert spent last season playing a ton on special teams and a bit at safety, however he's move to outside linebacker has really paid off. So much so that head coach Gary Andersen talked him up at Big Ten Media Days. Schobert is the type of hybrid player who can cover and has some pass rushing skills. He does need to show consistency, but Schobert is a name to watch and could very well end up a starter when it's all said and done.

Vince Biegel - The guy standing in Schobert's way happens to be a person who could end up being an all-Big Ten caliber player when it's all said and done. He's great in space and has shown some good moves on the pass rushing side of things, however Biegel is just a redshirt freshman and their is a sophomore breathing down his neck as we enter fall camp. At the end of the day he could be the most talented linebacker the Badgers have and that's saying a lot.

Garrett Dooley - While fellow defensive recruit Sojourn Shelton stole the show this spring, Dooley has flown under the radar for a lot of the casual fans out there and that's a shame because he's going to be a household name before you know it. He's a great fit as an inside linebacker for the Badgers and could be one of the few youngsters that push for significant playing time this season. Don't be surprised if you see his name on the two deep come the season opener. 

Projected Depth Chart:

Position 1st team 2nd team
OLB Brendan Kelly Tyler Dippel
ILB Derek Landish Connor O'Neill
ILB Chris Borland Garrett Dooley
OLB Ethan Armstrong Joe Schobert

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Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, as well as Publisher of Big Ten site