As someone who’s contributed in a major way for the University of Wisconsin since his redshirt freshman season, Chikwe Obasih wasn’t about to let a left leg injury prevent him from continuing to do so with his Badgers career winding down.
That injury wiped out half of the defensive end’s senior year and could make him a limited participant for much of the other half, but it never stopped Obasih from maximizing his final weeks with UW.
“(Chikwe’s) always a guy that wants to be in the mix, wants to be there in everything,” UW inside linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "Even when he wasn’t there, he was trying to learn some of our calls (at inside linebacker) and things like that.
"I think him being back and being finally healthy, you can see him doing things a little bit differently. I think he realizes it’s the last time he’ll be putting on a uniform (for UW), and he gets after it every day. It’s exciting to have him back."
Obasih suffered the injury in practice following UW’s season-opening win over Utah State and missed the next six games. He saw just three snaps in his return at Illinois on Oct. 28, and his playing time has lagged far behind Alec James and Conor Sheehy the last few weeks.
With possibly only three career games remaining for Obasih, who started 31 times for the Badgers in the previous three seasons, he’s hoping to take advantage of his final opportunities.
“I think initially, he was kind of discouraged (by the injury),” UW defensive end Alec James said. “But when he started the rehab process, he actually had a real good mindset for it. He was never really down in the dumps. He handled it real well.
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“He’s pretty motivated. He’s put in a lot of work these last few years, and especially when he was hurt he was putting in a lot of work. It’s good to see him be out there and making plays."
James and Sheehy entered this season as starters regardless of Obasih’s injury, but Obasih’s snaps were expected to keep up with UW’s other two senior defensive ends in a three-man rotation.
That hasn’t quite developed since he returned to the field, but UW coach Paul Chryst said he’s seeing "a little bit more comfort” from Obasih each week. Obasih also indicated he still may not be quite 100 percent.
“Getting there,” Obasih said. "That’s what you try to do with the strength training staff — get all the extra opportunities that are out there throughout the day to make your body a little better each and every day."
The fifth-ranked Badgers (11-0, 8-0) could be just two wins from a berth in the College Football Playoff as they travel to Minnesota on Saturday before facing No. 9 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game next week.
Obasih said he feels he’s capable of being an even bigger part of reaching that goal, and that there’s still time for him to do so.
"I could do a whole lot more, so I’m just trying to do the extra stuff to be able to contribute a little bit more,” Obasih said. "I’m just trying to help make this special season a little bit more special. I’ll do that each and any way for this team."