Badgers linebacker Leo Chenal named Big Ten Linebacker of the Year

MADISON, Wis. — In a season where every single Wisconsin Badgers defensive starter received All-Big Ten honors, one stood out from the rest, as the conference announced Tuesday that Leo Chenal was being named the Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year.

The junior from Grantsburg, Wisconsin recorded 106 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and 7 sacks, adding 5 additional QB hits and forcing 2 fumbles in just 10 games.

Chenal is the third Badgers linebacker to win the award since the conference began giving it out in 2011, joining Chris Borland in 2013 and Joe Schobert in 2015.

He also earned First Team All-Big Ten honors, along with fellow “Death Row” linebacking corps teammate Jack Sanborn.

In a sign of the strength of the Badgers defense, all 11 primary starters received some kind of all-conference recognition. In addition to Chenal and Sanborn making First Team All-Big Ten, defensive tackle Keeanu Benton of Janesville made Second Team All-Big Ten, while defensive end Matt Henningsen and cornerback Caesar Williams were third-team selections.

Six Badgers were given honorable mention all-conference honors: outside linebackers Noah Burks and Nick Herbig, cornerback Faion Hicks, defensive end Isaiah Mullens, and safeties Scott Nelson and Collin Wilder.

The Badgers finished 8-4 in the regular season, losing their season finale to Minnesota and missing out on another appearance in the Big Ten Championship Game. The loss also dropped the Badgers from the Top 25.

They now await a bowl invitation. The latest bowl projections from CBS Sports are predicting the Badgers will end up playing Kentucky in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida on January 1.