In the 2020 recruiting cycle Wisconsin football was fortunate enough to land highly regarded EDGE rusher Nick Herbig out of Hawaii despite holding other significant P5 offers. Herbig was the 143rd ranked player in his class and the 9th ranked OLB in the country.
He would quickly work his way up the depth chart and start 6 of 7 games as a true freshman for the Badgers. Herbig recorded 26 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and a fumble recovery while flashing his immense upside as a pass rusher.
Herbig however wasn’t impressed with his play so he packed on some additional weight and studied the intricacies of Jim Leonhard’s defense.
The Wisconsin Football program knows what they have in Nick Herbig. He’s a relentless pass rusher who never takes plays off. His intensity never wavers and has the desire to be great. Now in year two, the hard work is paying off in a big way.
Through 5 games:
- 18 tackles
- 4.5 tackles for loss
- 3.5 sacks
- 4 pass breakups
If you were to ask Nick Herbig, his biggest qualm with his play this season would be the lack of forced turnovers. While he’s excelled at getting to the quarterback and applying pressure, the sophomore he’s focused on turning those pressures into takeaways for the defense, which is an area the Badgers defense has struggled with.
Per PFF, Nick Herbig ranks 24th in all of college football with a pass-rushing grade of 78.6. He’s also generating pressure on more than 35% of his pass rush attempts, which is quite impressive for an underclassman.
It’s not just his ability to get after opposing quarterbacks that are improved in year two. He’s markedly better as a coverage linebacker this season. Wisconsin is utilizing him on more than 55% of passing downs, which is a considerable jump from the 31% he was used on as a true freshman.
His commitment to studying game tape to garner a better understanding of opponents’ offensive tackle tendencies has elevated his game in a noticeable way. Nick Herbig isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to pass rush techniques, so he’s able to tailor his attack based on having a better knowledge of flaws in his opposition.
The next great Wisconsin EDGE rusher
His overall hunger and commitment to becoming a difference-maker on an already dominating defense are commendable. In a system that puts a premium on outside linebacker play, it should say something that Herbig is already a two-year starter for the program.
This desire to be great, coupled with his natural ability is what is going to eventually lead to him being mentioned among the program’s elite EDGE rushers that came before him.
He’s obviously not on the level of a TJ Watt, Joe Schobert, Vince Biegel, or Zack Baun right now. But I don’t think it will be long before we’re talking about Nick Herbig in a similar light.
Nick Herbig is already a vital piece to this stingy Wisconsin football defense, but he’ll be the face of the defense in due time.