Wisconsin’s defense: reload, not rebuild

MADISON, Wis. — When Wisconsin football takes the field this fall, the team will look very different – especially the defense.

The Badgers are having to replace eight starters from last season. Some of those big names like Leo Chenal, Jack Sanborn, Noah Burks and Collin Wilder helped make UW’s defense the best in the nation.

Chenal was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, the first Badger since Craig Hudson in 1990 to be selected by the team from the City of Fountains. Sanborn went undrafted but later signed with the Chicago Bears, joining a long line of Badgers who began their NFL careers at Soldier Field.

RELATED: NFL Draft: Badgers linebacker Leo Chenal drafted by Chiefs

Some will say it’s a rebuilding season, but others like Keeanu Benton and Nick Herbig say it’s about reloading and just doing the job.

Benton, who started every game last season, knows just how to get that job done. The Janesville native posted a career-best 25 tackles in 2021 including 5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. The rising senior also recorded 2 forced fumbles.

Herbig also knows what it takes to do the job. The Hawaiian led Wisconsin in sacks last season with 9 and also recorded 14.5 tackles for loss. He recorded 7 tackles and a pair of sacks in the Badgers’ Las Vegas Bowl win and was named a 2022 preseason first-team All-American by Phil Steele