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Bevy of returning players should bolster Wisconsin Badgers' 2020 defense
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Bevy of returning players should bolster Wisconsin Badgers' 2020 defense

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Replacing talented players is one thing, but the University of Wisconsin football team’s defense has to replace leadership and elite production from two departing seniors next season.

Zack Baun and Chris Orr both leave significant holes to fill for the Badgers, but the leadership void their departures create is something the unit will need to figure out quickly this offseason.

As for on-field talent, a bevy of returning starters should help UW maintain the strong defense it showed in 2019 when it finished fourth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense, sixth in rushing defense, 10th in scoring defense, 12th in passing defense.

Let’s take a look at how UW’s roster on defense sits a couple of months before spring practices. Players’ years in school are what they’ll be when the 2020 season begins, and you can read more about the incoming recruits and watch their highlights here.

— Colten Bartholomew

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Linebacker Jake Chaney, a three-star prospect out of Lehigh Acres, Florida, tweeted Sunday that he had committed to the Badgers. UW won the recruiting battle for Chaney over 10 other offers, including ones from Michigan, Minnesota, and Indiana.

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Peterson, a three-star outside linebacker/defensive end from Akron, Ohio, was one of the Badgers’ top targets on defense since the spring of 2019. He tallied 21 sacks in his junior season at Archbishop Hoban, and chose the Badgers over offers from Alabama, Michigan, West Virginia and more.

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Ricardo Hallman, ranked a four-star prospect by Rivals and a three-star by 247Sports and ESPN, had offers from at least 16 Football Bowl Subdivision programs, including Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Miami, Florida and Florida State.

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Chris Borland’s senior year of 2013 was arguably his best, as he won the conference’s defensive player of the year and linebacker of the year awards en route to a first-team All-American selection by the Football Writers Association of America. 

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"I would always maybe not take things as seriously or do all the things that I should be doing. To me, that’s not what a leader should do, and I think those are the things that I’ve fixed now,” Van Lanen said. “I’ve put myself in this position, and I’ve been playing for a few years now and I’m one of the oldest guys in the room. That’s all part of it, too.”

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