Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Mike Maskalunas (58) breaks up a pass intended for Michigan State’s C.J. Hayes in 2019. 

COLTEN BARTHOLOMEW [email protected]

When inside linebacker Jack Sanborn announced his return for another year at UW, it gave the Badgers one of the best tandems of linebackers in the Big Ten for another season. Sanborn (52) and Chenal (46) led the Badgers in tackles and Chenal (three sacks, seven hurries) was the most productive pass-rusher on the team.

Senior Mike Maskalunas will play his final year at UW this fall after serving as the backup at both inside ‘backer spots last season. This spring could be a showcase for young players in this group like Tate Grass, Maema Njongmeta, Malik Reed and Jordan Turner to push for roles.

It’s difficult to earn snaps on defense behind a duo like Chenal and Sanborn because they rarely leave the field, but Grass proved to be a valued special teamer last year, playing all seven games. Ensuring this crew is ready if Chenal or Sanborn were to suffer an injury is pivotal to ensure the defense doesn’t come unglued without one of its stars.