Quarterbacks, or Running Backs, always win all of the awards. It’s not a big deal nationally, but the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy honors the Walk-on, or former Walk-on, player that did hte best in any given year.
Last season, Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma, won it and he deserved it for how he led the Sooners into the Playoffs.
Any given season, there are always Walk-on players that do well.
At Wisconsin, the most famous Walk-on is JJ Watt who is currently arguably the top player in the NFL. Watt paved the way for his younger brothers Derek and TJ. After playing Fullback at Wisconsin, Derek is currently playing for the San Diego Chargers. Younger brother TJ is a starting Outside Linebacker for the Wisconsin Badgers and a junior.
Less talked about is another Wisconsin Linebacker and, like JJ Watt, also a Walk-on.
The Badgers have three really good Linebackers with Jack Cichy and the TJ guys, TJ Watt and TJ Edwards.
Cichy is the team’s leading tackler currently with 50 while Edwards has 37 and Watt has 34.
Edwards is an Inside Linebacker from Lake Villa, Illinois who is very sturdy at 6-1, 245 and a run stopper. The Badgers always have a good defense against the run and this year is no different.
Watt is most a pass rush specialist and at 6-5, 245 with excellent speed and a motor, he will be sought after by NFL teams and he should be the third Watt brother in the NFL year after next if not next season.
Watt has 5 and a half sacks so far and 8 tackles for loss. He has another 5 Quarterback hurries.
Jack Cichy is just having an outstanding early season. He’s all over the field and not only leading the team in total tackles, he also has 7 tackles for loss. He has 1 and a half sacks, 2 more Quarterback hurries, broke up a couple of passes and forced a couple of fumbles to top things off.
The Walk-on from Somerset, Wisconsin is around 6-2, 235 and he could be a very inspirational 3 year starter at Wisconsin.
Jack Cichy was not a bad high school player, but he was a little on the small side. His father played college football at Notre Dame and his mother played college basketball. Coaches that did not recruit Jack Cichy probably made a mistake, but since he is an in state kid he probably wanted to play for the Badgers all along as so many do.
He’s an outstanding Linebacker and driven to succeed, obviously.
In last week’s game against Ohio State, Cichy had 15 total tackles and 3 and a half tackles for loss. He also had a Quarterback sack, hurried the Quarterback another time and he forced a fumble in his best performance of the season.
The thinking was that the Badger defense would collapse this season because of the loss of excellent
Defensive Coordinator Dave Aranda who was stolen by LSU in the off season.
Wisconsin hired Justin Wilcox who was at USC last season and not doing all that well. But, this defense hasn’t much missed a beat from last year’s version. The Badgers are 12th nationally in total defense and that’s after playing LSU, Michigan and Ohio State.
The Badgers are sitting at 4-2 after starting off with 4 straight wins. Their 2 losses were to Michigan and Ohio State the best teams in the Big 10 just like the old days. Wisconsin has games remaining with the Big 10 West teams Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota. They could run the table and win them all, or they could slip up a couple of games. If they win their remaining games they could get a rematch with either Michigan, or Ohio State which would be fun.
Check out Jack Cichy and teammates out for yourself this weekend as they play on the road at Iowa.
Jack Cichy deserves some consideration as the best Walk-on player in the country.