We continue our look through the last decade of Wisconsin Badgers football. In “Best of the Decade, Part 1”, we went through my list of players who we believe were unequivocally the best at their positions out of all those who played there in the past ten years.
Before we get to “Part 2”, I’d like to address some feedback I received, from you the reader. In regards to the first installment, there were a couple points in which I either messed up, or just plain old forgot. Here are second takes for the offensive series!
Offensive Linemen: Travis Frederick
How I could have forgotten a 1st Team All American is beyond me. Frederick was an anchor at center for a team featuring the likes of Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon, and James White.
Also, this one is a bit more disappointing to have left out, especially at a program like Wisconsin. The fullback position! Without further a due here are my Best of the Decade, fullbacks!
Fullback: Bradie Ewing
I won’t delve into career stats on this one, just rely on the “eye test”. Ewing played a vital role on back to back Rose Bowl squads in 2010 and 2011. Blocking for the likes of Scott Tolzien, Russell Wilson, John Clay, and the aforementioned Ball and White is quite the achievement. However, it wasn’t that he just blocked for them, but he blocked incredibly well. Ewing didn’t miss blocks, he finished them.
Honorable Mention: Derek Watt
Wisconsin Badgers; Best of the Decade
Alright now that-that business is finished, it’s time to finish Wisconsin Badgers, Best of the Decade Part 2. This is going to be difficult. Wisconsin has featured a boatload of talent at each position on the defensive side of the ball in the last ten years. Wisconsin is currently running a 3-4 defense, so that is what I will base the selection format off of.
Defensive Line: JJ Watt (2009-2010)
Career Stats: 11.5 Sacks, 36.5 TFL, 1 INT
Best Season: 7 Sacks, 21 TFL, 1 INT
Watt came into Wisconsin as a TE transfer from Central Michigan. He left as a transcendental talent who left an unforgettable mark on the Wisconsin Badgers football program. Badger fans will never forget the legendary performance he put on at Camp Randall that saw Wisconsin defeat #1 Ohio State, 31-18.
Defensive Line: O’Brien Schofield (2007-2009)
Career Stats: 17 Sacks, 33 TFL, 4 FF
Best Season: 12 Sacks, 24.5 TFL, 3 FF
Schofield might not have the NFL career of his college teammate in Watt (still very successful however), but he outperformed him in the stats department while in Madison. A force on the edge, Schofield was consistently double teamed, and still managed to make his impact on the game felt week in and week out.
Defensive Line: Matt Shaughnessy (2007-2008)
Career Stats: 9 Sacks, 26 TFL
Best season: 5 Sacks, 18 TFL
Shaughnessy came out of nowhere for the Badgers and is currently enjoying a successful career in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: Beau Allen, Louis Nzegwu
Linebacker: Joe Schobert (2013-2015)
Career Stats: 13 Sacks, 33 TFL, 1 INT, 6 FF
Best Season: 9.5 Sacks, 20 TFL, 1 INT, 4 FF
A classic case of Wisconsin high school football player turned walk on turned star. Nicknamed “Joe The Show”, put on a show in his senior season at Madison. The momentum he gained from his heroic performance in overtime vs Auburn in the Capital One Bowl surely carried into his last year as a Badger.
Linebacker: Deandre Levy (2005-2009)
Career Stats: 210 Tackles, 14 Sacks, 27 TFL, 2 INT, 4 FF
Best Season: 73 Tackles, 5 Sacks, 9.5 TFL, 1 INT
Levy enjoyed a successful four year stint in Madison. Throughout his career he exemplified consistency and positive productivity.
Linebacker: TJ Watt (2013-2016)
Career Stats: 11.5 Sacks, 17 TFL, 1 INT, 2 FF
Best Season: 11.5 Sacks, 15.5 TFL, 1 INT, 2 FF
Although his career at UW was short, it was nonetheless explosive. Just like his brother JJ, TJ went from an unheralded TE recruit to an All American edge rusher.
Linebacker: Chris Borland (2009-2013)
Career Stats: 420 Tackles, 17 Sacks, 50 TFL, 3 INT, 9 FF
Best Season: 143 Tackles, 2.5 Sacks, 19 TFL, 2 INT, 5 FF
Throughout the years as a fan, there comes a few players who you’ll never forget. Borland is one of those players. All things considered he should widely be considered the best linebacker to have come through Wisconsin in the past decade.
Honorable Mention: Mike Taylor, Jonathon Casillas, Vince Biegel, Blake Sorenson
Defensive Back: Antonio Fenelus (2008-2011)
Career Stats: 155 Tackles, 9 INT, 12 PD, 1 FF
Best Season: 56 Tackles, 4 INT, 7 PD, 1 FF
Fenelus was a relentless corner who locked down on an island by himself for his 4 seasons in Madison. There is no doubt his tenacity on the outside helped spark consecutive Rose Bowl runs in 2010 and 2011.
Defensive Back: Michael Caputo (2012-2015)
Career Stats: 244 Tackles, 10 TFL, 3 INT, 17 PD, 4 FF, 5 FR
Best Season: 106 Tackles, 6 TFL, 1 INT, 6 PD, 2 FF, 4 FR
Like the aforementioned Borland, Caputo is one of those players that as a fan you’ll remember. From here on out, young and veteran Badger defensive backs will look at Caputo as the example of how to play the safety position at Wisconsin.
Defensive Back: Aaron Henry (2007-2011)
Career Stats: 181 Tackles, 7 TFL, 7 INT, 10 PD, 3 FR
Best Season: 67 Tackles, 3 TFL, 4 INT, 4 PD
Henry was a key component on the defensive side of the ball in all 4 years at Madison. Not only was he a leader on the field, but as well as off of it as a model of consistency.
Defensive Back: Sojourn Shelton (2013-2016)
Career Stats: 129 Tackles, 9 INT, 30 PD, 2 FF
Best Season: 31 Tackles, 1 TFL, 4 INT, 12 PD
Shelton, a four year starter, has left a spot on this team that is not replaceable. From his on the field prowess, to his off the field leadership, Shelton was the total package at Wisconsin. It is fitting his best season came as a senior.
Honorable Mention: Dezmen Southward, Devin Smith, Chris Maragos
The deeper you dig into “Wisconsin Badgers, Best of the Decade,” you realize it is impossible to hit everyone who has made a tremendous impact on the school, but also on the college football landscape as a whole. It makes you really appreciate the quality of players that have come through Madison in the past ten years.