Returning two of the top tacklers in the Big Ten last season, in Chris Borland and Mike Taylor, Wisconsin's linebackers are primed for improvement.
The Badgers' linebackers have the physicality down, but can they improve their athleticism and contain dual-threat quarterbacks, something that plagued last year's squad all season long?
The Front Runners
Tackles For Loss: 31.5
After sitting out a year due to a shoulder injury, Chris Borland came back to finish second in the Big Ten in tackles with 143. Heading into 2012, Borland was named a candidate for the Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Lott IMPACT Trophy. The first-team All-Big ten selection, Borland, continues to improve in all facets of his game, and is primed for another big year.
Tackles For Loss: 23.5
Taylor, a first-team All-Big ten performer last season, and a preseason candidate for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award, and the Lott IMPACT Award, returns to Madison after a monster season where he racked up 150 tackles at middle linebacker.
Tackles For Loss: 0
Fenton comes into fall camp as our leader to replace Kevin Claxton at outside linebacker. Fenton had one of the best springs and provides athleticism out on the edge, something the Badgers desperately need at the position.
Tackles For Loss: 4.5
Armstrong missed the entire spring following hip surgery, but according to Head Coach Bret Bielema, was feeling better and could be competing for the vacant starting outside linebacker position. Armstrong played in 12 games last season, including two starts, before missing the rest of the season.
Tackles For Loss: 1.5
O'Neill has been on the cusp of serious playing time for a while now and this could be the year the redshirt junior finally breaks through. O'Neill made an appearance in all 14 games last year, although mostly on special teams. Still, O'Neill came on later in the year, playing big roles in the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl games.
The Dark Horse
Tackles For Loss: 0
Trotter's hype came from the 2011 spring game, where he filled in very well for Chris Borland and displayed his play making ability. Trotter hasn't pushed Borland at middle linebacker as much as many originally thought, but the staff still feels he can contribute at some point.