The Badger Herald’s male athlete of the semester: Joe Schobert

first_imgSenior linebacker Joe Schobert was not supposed to be here.Even after setting all kinds of records as a running back at Waukesha West high school, Schobert remained overlooked by many FBS schools and ultimately committed to playing football for an FCS school in North Dakota.His bags were packed and he was all but ready to head out west before then-Wisconsin head coach Brett Bielema made a last-second recruiting effort after seeing Schobert perform in Wisconsin’s All-Star game.Now, just a few years later, Schobert has asserted himself as one of most talented defensive players in the nation, and he entered his senior season with lofty expectations.After a breakout 2014 season where he started in all 14 games at outside linebacker and finished forth on the team in tackles (69) and second in tackles for a loss (13.5), Schobert was set to be even more productive in 2015.He was, as the senior served to be, not only the most productive defensive players on the team, but among the most productive in the entire country.It started with UW’s first game of the regular season where Schobert exploded on to the national scene against Alabama, recording a team-high 13 tackles and two sacks. And that momentum carried through the rest of the season.Schobert’s season-defining performance came in the Big Ten opener against the Iowa, where it was the defense’s effort that kept the Badgers within striking distance. Schobert led the defensive effort with eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.And even though UW’s lackluster offense led to a loss, it was clear that the defense, led by Schobert, was a force to be reckoned with.Schobert’s domination on defense continued throughout the regular season and showed no signs of slowing down, as he put together a similar effort in his final game at Camp Randall stadium. On senior day against Northwestern, he matched his career-high 13 tackles and recorded three tackles for a loss in yet another game where the UW offense performed abysmally.Schobert finished with 76 total tackles (38 solo, 38 assisted), which was second-best on the team. The senior also finished with team-highs in tackles for a loss (18.5), forced fumbles (5) and sacks (9.5). His five forced fumbles ties UW’s single-season record and ranks tied for second in the nation, while his 9.5 sacks ranks tied for 14th best in the country.At season’s end, the Big Ten recognized Schobert for his efforts with the Butkus-Fitzgerald Award, which is given annually to the conference’s top linebacker. He is the second Wisconsin linebacker to win the award, with Chris Borland taking home the trophy in 2013.But Schobert fell just short of taking home the Nagurski-Woodson Award, given to the conference’s best overall defensive player. He was beaten out by Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib.last_img