Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
topical alert

Leo Chenal named Big Ten linebacker of year, all Wisconsin defensive starters earn conference honors

  • 0

Inside linebacker Leo Chenal was a frequent visitor in opponents’ backfields for the University of Wisconsin football team this season, disrupting run and pass plays.

His performance was rewarded with the Big Ten Conference’s Butkus-Fitzgerald Linebacker of the Year Award along with a first-team All-Big Ten nod from both coaches and media.

Senior inside linebacker Jack Sanborn joined Chenal as a first-team selection, earning his honor from the coaches.

The last UW inside linebacker to earn first-team All-Big Ten honors was T.J. Edwards in 2019, and the last time the Badgers had two linebackers earn first-team all-conference nods was 2012 (Mike Taylor, Chris Borland).

All 11 defensive starters for UW earned a Big Ten honor.

Chenal leads the Badgers and is second in the conference with 106 tackles despite missing the first two games after contracting COVID-19. His seven sacks are a team-high, as are his 17 tackles for loss. He ranks fourth in the league in sacks and second in tackles for loss, but he had the most tackles for loss per game (1.7) in the Big Ten.

Chenal joins Borland (2013) and Joe Schobert (2015) as the program’s linebackers to win the conference’s linebacker of the year award.

Sanborn was a third-team media selection last season and is UW’s second-leading tackler (88). He has a career-high 14½ tackles for loss and he recorded 3½ sacks. His four quarterback hurries are tied for second for UW, and he recovered a fumble in a loss to Notre Dame.

UW nose tackle Keeanu Benton was a unanimous second-team selection on the defensive line. He produced 24 tackles, including five for loss and 2½ sacks, while also recovering two fumbles and breaking up two passes this season. It is his first career all-conference honor.

Badgers senior defensive end Matt Henningsen (31 tackles, 5½ for loss, three sacks) and senior cornerback Caesar Williams (24 tackles, three interceptions, six break-ups) were named third-team picks. Six UW players were honorable mentions: seniors Noah Burks (outside linebacker), Faion Hicks (cornerback), Scott Nelson (safety) and Collin Wilder (safety); junior Isaiah Mullens (defensive end); and sophomore Nick Herbig (outside linebacker).

Michigan State’s Mel Tucker — a former UW defensive back — was named the Hayes-Schembechler and McClain Coach of the Year after guiding the Spartans to a 10-2 season.

The Badgers (8-4) learn Sunday which bowl game they’ll play in and who they’ll face in that game.

Here’s the full All-Big Ten defense and special teams honors.

First-team defense

(Selections are consensus unless otherwise noted)

Defensive line: Aidan Hutchinson, Michigan; Haskell Garret, Ohio State; Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State; George Karlaftis, Purdue

Linebacker: David Ojabo, Michigan; Leo Chenal, Wisconsin; Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin (coaches); Jack Campbell, Iowa (media)

Defensive back: Dane Belton, Iowa; Riley Moss, Iowa; Dax Hill, Michigan (coaches); Jaquan Brisker, Penn State; Kerby Joseph, Illinois (media)

Defensive lineman of the year and defensive player of the year: Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan

Linebacker of the year: Leo Chenal, ILB, Wisconsin

Defensive back of the year: Riley Moss, CB, Iowa

Kicker of the year: Jake Moody, K, Michigan

Punter of the year: Jordan Stout, P, Penn State

Return specialist of the year: Charlie Jones, Iowa

Coach of the year: Mel Tucker, Michigan State

Second-team defense

(Selections are consensus unless otherwise noted)

Defensive line: Zach Vanvalkenburg, Iowa; Jacub Panasiuk, Michigan State; Tyreke Smith, Ohio State; PJ Mustipher, Penn State; Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin; Boye Mafe, Minnesota (media); Zach Harrison, Ohio State (media)

Linebacker: Micah McFadden, Indiana; Jojo Domann, Nebraska; Ellis Brooks, Penn State; Chris Bergin, Northwestern (media); Jack Sanborn, Wisconsin (media)

Defensive back: Kerby Joseph, Illinois (coaches); Matt Hankins, Iowa; Dax Hill, Michigan (media); Cam Taylor-Britt, Nebraska; Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State (coaches); Brandon Joseph, Northwestern (media)

Third-team defense

Defensive line: Matt Henningsen, Wisconsin; Zach Harrison, Ohio State (coaches); Boye Mafe, Minnesota (coaches); Sam Okuayinonu, Maryland (coaches); Jacob Slade, Michigan State (media); Tyreke Smith, Ohio State (media); Jesse Luketa, Penn State (media)

Linebacker: Jojo Domann, Nebraska (media); Olakunle Fatukasi, Rutgers (media); Jack Campbell, Iowa (coaches); Chris Bergin, Northwestern (coaches); Brandon Smith, Penn State (coaches)

Defensive back: Caesar Williams, Wisconsin (coaches); Denzel Burke, Ohio State (coaches); Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State (coaches); Joey Porter Jr., Penn State (coaches); Vincent Gray, Michigan (media); Brad Hawkins, Iowa (media); Xavier Henderson, Michigan State (media); Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State (media)

First-team specialists

Kicker: Jake Moody, Michigan (coaches); Caleb Shudak, Iowa (media)

Punter: Jordan Stout, Penn State; Adam Korsak, Rutgers

Returner: Charlie Jones, Iowa


Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Badger Sports

Breaking News