Small town Grantsburg, Wisconsin – has a population of just 1,384 people. It’s also where Badgers starting inside linebacker Leo Chenal calls home.
Paul Chryst and the Wisconsin Football program, in general, have had a long list of productive inside linebackers since he took over as head coach in 2015. Yet, you could argue that few have been more productive than Leo Chenal has been over these last few weeks.
The “larger Tazmanian Devil” as safety Collin Wilder called Chenal, has been an absolute game wrecker for Wisconsin and a catalyst for the team’s recent resurgence.
Despite missing the first two games of the season, Leo Chenal somehow leads the badgers in tackles (51), sacks (5.0), and tackles for loss (9.5). Simply put, he’s been a remarkably destructive presence for this defensive front.
In the last two games alone, Chenal has accounted for: 26 tackles 4.5 sacks 8.0 tackles for loss 1 forced fumble.
At this point, Leo Chenal has solidified himself as one of, if not THE best inside linebacker in the Big 10 with his recent play. It won’t be long before the talking heads start to take notice on a national level considering PFF has Leo Chenal as the highest graded linebacker in the country, and for good reason. There is also a familiar name not too far behind in Jack Sanborn, you may have heard of him.
Wisconsin Football starting inside linebacker was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for Badger of Honor.
Q: What specifically did you work on to improve in the off-season?
A: Block destruction and pass rush are the two main things that I have been working on this off-season. Being able to defend my gap and bonus up to the ball is huge. Thought I needed to do more in getting to the quarterback than I did last season so that was big.
Q: Who within the program has taught you the most/helped you develop in your time here?
A: I couldn’t name a single guy, but Mike Maskalunas and Jack have always helped me when I needed it. Any time I have a question they know exactly what to say.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Coach Leonhard?
A: I love how he comes up with schemes that get a ton of different guys involved in being aggressive. If a guy likes or excels at a certain thing, he will get them involved.
Q: Where do you think the duo of Jack Sanborn and yourself ranks among the inside linebacker tandems in school history?
A: I can’t say where we rank now. There are some extremely talented players that have passed through here that we learn from and take from their game. I can’t say I’m there yet.
Q: What is one team goal you’d like to achieve before your career at Wisconsin is over?
A: I want to win the Big Ten. We came close my freshman year, and we have another shot to get it.
Q: Who among the linebackers that haven’t gotten to play do you think will break out next when their opportunity comes?
A: I think that we have a ton of depth at inside linebacker. Maema and Tate are the ones who are stepping up. Jordan is someone I’m excited to see on the field as well.
Enjoy Leo Chenal while he’s here badger fans because he’ll be making plays on Sunday soon enough.