Grading the Linebacker in Wisconsin's 2019 Signing Class

Grading the Linebacker in Wisconsin's 2019 Signing Class

Football

Grading the Linebacker in Wisconsin's 2019 Signing Class

MADISON, Wis. – It is hard to know how the careers are going to turn out for the 19 scholarship players who signed with Wisconsin during the early signing period, but the Badgers signed a top-30 class that experts are calling the best in the modern recruiting era (since 2000).

In this Badgers Insider feature, we will grade the linebackers and how it will impact Wisconsin.

Linebackers: Leo Chenal (Three Stars), Spencer Lytle (Four Stars), Skyler Meyers (Three Stars), Maema Njongmeta (Three Stars)

A mix of in-state talent, underrated Midwest potential and a highly-coveted pass rusher make up this group for Wisconsin, which signed two projected inside linebackers (Chenal and Njongmeta) and two projected outside linebackers (Lytle and Meyers) Both will get a head start on their college career by enrolling at semester.

With Wisconsin set to lose Andrew Van Ginkel to graduation, the talented Lytle will have a chance to make an early impression. Outside of quarterback Graham Mertz and offensive tackle Logan Brown, Lytle was one of the biggest recruiting wins for the Badgers on the defensive side of the football. He had over 40 scholarship offers from some of the top programs in the country and ended up picking Wisconsin over Clemson. Enough said.

With 108 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and seven sacks as a senior, Lytle – a two-time all-league selection – has demonstrated his ability to rush the passer, move sideline-to-sideline in pass coverage and be more than capable of contributing in run support. UW’s pass rush was inconsistent throughout this season, allowing quarterbacks to pick on the Badgers’ young secondary. If Lytle can demonstrate his ability to create pressure in the backfield during practices, he’ll force the coaches to play him.

Meyers appears to need more time to develop than Lytle, but the talent is there for outside linebackers coach Bobby April to work with. Meyers created a lot of pressure for his high school team in Blue Springs, Missouri, as he registered 120 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and one interception. That big senior season is part of the reason Wisconsin offered him, sneaking him out of Missouri before any other Power-Five school offered him. When Meyers can put together his physical traits, he and Lytle over time could provide a dangerous pass rush for Wisconsin on the outside.

Chenal was one of the most talented players in the state of Wisconsin, earning first-team all-state at both running back and linebacker on his way to being named Wisconsin’s Gatorade Player of the Year. One of three in-state commits for the Badgers, Chenal will start at linebacker, where he registered 385 tackles in high school and where his motor, physicality and speed will be put on full display. Chenal’s older brother, John, appeared in seven games on special teams this past season as a walk-on fullback for Wisconsin and Leo Chenal could follow in the same role while he learns the linebacker position.

Njongmeta draws a lot of parallels to senior All-American inside linebacker T.J. Edwards coming out of high school. Both players were not highly recruited coming out of the state of Illinois, but both were smart individuals who could read and react. Njongmeta has everything the Wisconsin coaches look for as an inside linebacker. A first-team all-state by Illinois High School Football Coaches Association as a senior, Njongmeta finished with 131 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks. He’s still growing physically and needs to develop his body in the weight room, but don’t be surprised if he becomes a tackling machine for Wisconsin.

Positional Grade: A

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