Jack Cichy ACL injury is a blow, but Wisconsin has depth at linebacker

Jack Cichy ACL injury is a blow, but Wisconsin has depth at linebacker

Wisconsin’s defense received a big blow Thursday when it was announced star linebacker and captain Jack Cichy would miss the season with a knee injury.

Cichy was regarded by many as the best linebacker on what looks to be a strong set of ‘backers in Madison, even with T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel having departed. But if there is one thing Wisconsin has at linebacker, it’s depth.

“I don’t know exactly what’s in store next,” Cichy said in a statement, “but I know I’m not done with football. No matter what, I felt a thanks was in order.”

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst added: “We’re most disappointed for Jack, but if you know him you know there’s a lot to him. He’ll respond.”

While depth has been compromised, there still are some quality players in the wings in Leon Jacobs, Ryan Connelly and JC transfer Andrew Van Ginkel.

The 6-2, 223-pound sophomore was on the Bednarik and Nagurski watch lists in 2017 after earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in 2016 and being a Butkus semifinalist. Cichy registered 60 tackles, including 7.0 TFLs, and 1.5 sacks last season despite missing the final seven games for a Wisconsin defense that was No. 3 in the Big Ten overall (301.4 ypg), No. 3 in scoring (15.6 ppg) and No. 1 vs. the run (98.8 ypg) for an 11-3 Badger team that won the Big Ten West and Cotton Bowl.

Cichy’s spot on the inside figures to be filled by Chris Orr, who is coming off an injury that cost him almost all of last season. Orr will line up by T.J. Edwards, a stalwart on the interior.

The outside slots in the Badgers’ 3-4 are manned by Garrett Dooley and Zack Baun as they look to replace Watt and Biegel for first-year Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard.

“We’re going to keep fighting, and we have a helluva season coming,” Cichy said.

Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer

About Tom Dienhart: BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, and send him questions to his weekly mailbag.

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