Wisconsin Football: Preseason team awards

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Jonathan Taylor
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 25: Jonathan Taylor /
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Wisconsin Football - T.J. Edwards
MADISON, WI – NOVEMBER 26: T.J. Edwards (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Defensive Player of the Year

Inside Linebacker – T.J. Edwards

This one kind of isn’t fair. An All-American linebacker who spurned the NFL to come back and play for his senior season is going to be the best player on most defenses he’s part of. Edwards is no exception.

Edwards brings the dual threat of playing the run well and playing the pass well to his position, which is something not many can say. He tallied double-digit tackles for loss and double-digit pass breakups. Much of the same is expected of Edwards in 2018 as he’ll make his case for being one of the best Wisconsin linebackers of all-time.

Edwards decided not to make the jump to the NFL due to the advice he received from the NFL’s advisory board. Edwards needed to be faster to truly excel as an NFL linebacker. While that’s a negative, the advisory board didn’t mention anything about his skills. Edwards is one of the most technical linebackers in college football. His athleticism might not yet be good enough for him to be a top pick in the NFL, but he’s athletic enough to dominate in the college game.

I don’t expect anything shy of excellence from Edwards this year and beyond. Great football players are hard to come by. They produce, period. Edwards has shown it in the past in Madison, he’s going to show it this year, and he’ll show it in the future.

Other candidates: D’Cota Dixon, Olive Sagapolu, Andrew Van Ginkel