With a little over 2 months until the Badgers play LSU at Lambeau Field in the season opener, Sconnie Sports Talk would like to look at the top ten players to watch for in the 2016-2017 football season. A different Badger football player will be featured every week in no particular order.
1. Vince Biegel
To start this series, we are looking at a player everyone is already watching — and should continue to do so. Senior outside linebacker #47 Vince Biegel is the known leader of the Badger defense. After playing boundary outside linebacker last season opposite former Badger teammate and current NFL player with the Cleveland Browns, Biegel will take over Schobert’s position at field outside linebacker. Playing opposite him will be T.J. Watt.
Biegel was a four-start recruit before coming to the University of Wisconsin. According to UW Athletics, Rivals ranked Biegel as the number 3 outside linebacker and number 73 national player. ESPN and Rivals also ranked him the top player in Wisconsin—Biegel grew up in Wisconsin Rapids and went to Lincoln High School. In his high school career, Biegel received many honors including Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year, Conference Player of the Year and winner of the John Anderson Award for outstanding linebackers.
In his four years playing for the Badgers, Biegel has received Academic All-Big Ten honors (2013, 2014), second-team All-Big Ten (2014), Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week (2014) and fourth-team All-American (2015 preseason). He has started at outside linebacker for the Badgers since 2014.
Despite performing at high levels during his two years starting for the Badgers, the 6-foot-4, 246-pound outside linebacker has not received as much recognition as is deserved. During the 2015-2016 season, Biegel record 66 tackles (third highest on team) and eight sacks (second highest on team). Despite a good performance during his junior year, Biegel was named third-team all-Big Ten while his teammate, Schobert was first-team and the Big Ten’s linebacker of the year.
This year Biegel comes in as the obvious player to lead the Badger defense — and prove to critics he is well deserving of top honors. Biegel is known by his teammates as the leader of the team. After announcing at the end of December 2015 he would be returning to play for Wisconsin during his senior year, Biegel has shown both his athletic and leadership abilities within the defense and the whole Badger team. Under new leadership of 39-year-old defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, Biegel and his teammates plan to maintain the high level of defensive performance which Wisconsin is known for.
One thing to especially watch for come the season opener on Sept. 3, will be how Biegel and Watt play together. The dynamic between Biegel and his roommate Schobert was noticeable and showed in defensive performance last season. During the Badgers spring training, Biegel said of his new starting linebacker, Watt, that the two would “have a lot of fun in the backfield with quarterbacks.”
In 2016 Big Ten Teleconference this past April, Biegel spoke to the media about returning for his senior year to Wisconsin rather than enter the NFL draft early. Biegel spoke highly of his current and former teammates and his new coach Wilcox.
“The best is yet to come here at the University of Wisconsin,” he said.