Breakout Player of the Year
Linebacker – Jack Sanborn
When Sanborn came to the Wisconsin football team last season, he saw much of his time on the field as a part of the special teams. He didn’t stand much of a chance to break into the defensive lineup that included T.J. Edwards, Ryan Connelly, and Chris Orr ahead of him. Now, with Edwards and Connelly off to the NFL, Sanborn will see the field more as a part of the defense. I think he even has a good shot to start at inside linebacker opposite of Chris Orr.
If Sanborn is going to have a breakout year, he’s going to have to earn the playing time. He will likely have to battle with Mike Maskalunas and incoming freshman Leo Chenal. Chenal is an absolute physical freak and will eventually force himself into the starting lineup down the road. Since Sanborn has a year of experience and more time learning the system, I think he will get the first crack at the starting position opposite of Chris Orr.
At 6’2″ and 232 pounds, he has a similar build to T.J. Edwards, who is 6’1″, 242 pounds. Those are big shoes to fill, but that’s exactly what the Badgers are hoping he will become. Once Orr graduates, Wisconsin football will look to Sanborn to become the heart of this Badger defense.
Last season he totaled 7 tackles in 11 games, but he also had a forced fumble and a pass deflection. During his senior year of high school, with a torn labrum, Sanborn had 120 tackles. With a year of experience under his belt, Sanborn could be a huge part of this Wisconsin football defense and have a nice breakout year.
Other candidates: Bryson Williams, Aron Cruickshank