Wisconsin Football Player Profile: Outside Linebacker Nick Herbig

(Photo: ESPN Pictures)

Herbig at a glance: At least publicly, no one on the Wisconsin roster challenges themselves to do more than outside linebacker Nick Herbig.

Despite a significant improvement in his sophomore production—he finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference in sacks (9) and seventh in tackles for a loss (14.5)—Herbig felt dissatisfied with his performance.

I’m pissed,” Herbig said in April. “I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I felt that I could have helped the team a lot more than I did. That’s all that matters to me is this team. That’s all that matters to me, and that’s all that matters to me. I am delighted with this season. »

He said he didn’t need to watch a movie to spot missed opportunities. He remembers them and how he felt.

“People always say, ‘Don’t worry about it. I don’t dwell on them, I don’t forget them,” he said. “When I get the chance again, I know what it’s like to be a loser, to be at the gap or sitting in the locker room crying because we lost and I couldn’t play for this team.”

Herbig shared similar sentiments after recording six tackles for a loss and a sack as a rookie in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

“He plays like a badger,” outside linebackers coach April Bobby said. “He’s smart, tough and dependable. He takes ownership of his role. He holds others accountable, and not in an arrogant way. He’s a great boy who wants to be good. When you want to be good, you can fight the demon who wants you to be bad. He pushes himself.

Depth behind Herbig: Herbig missed a good chunk of the spring ball with an arm injury, but he saw it as a bright spot. His absence provided more opportunities for the UW’s intriguing group of young outside linebackers, Daryl Peterson (first red shirt), TJ Bollers (freshman in red shirt) and Kaden Johnson (third year of second year).

There is also the fifth year senior CJ Goetzwho played 32 games in a limited role. He played in 12 games last season and set career highs for tackles (16), tackles for yards lost (3.5) and sacks (2).

The joker is Aaron Witte, who impressed the coaching staff as a freshman in 2020 before suffering an injury that has sidelined him since. April hopes the 6-foot-6 Witt will be back for fall camp.

“He’s long, he’s physical and has that blue-collar mentality,” April said. “All these guys in this room fit that. But he definitely has that and the length. He’s the longest and tallest guy.”

While Herbig will start on one side, there is a competition for the place left by Noah Burk. Considering the talent April has to work with, more than one player can turn against Herbig this season.

“These guys were all selected by myself,” April said. “In the process of recruiting all these kids, it’s really starting to unfold for them. From top to bottom, that’s the most depth we’ve had in terms of talent.”

Fun fact about Herbig: Of the five Big Ten players who had eight or more sacks last season, Herbig is the only one to return for 2022. Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson (14) and David Ojabo (11), Penn State Arnold Ebiketie (9.5) and UW Leo Chenal (8) all went to the first three rounds of the 2022 NFL Draft. Hutchinson went No. 2 overall at Detriot.

Without a doubt, Herbig intrigued NFL scouts after his impressive sophomore season. Brian Baldinger, a former NFL offensive lineman and current NFL Network analyst, thinks Herbig is one of the best passing throwers in the country.

Baldinger broke down Herbig’s 2021 flick while analyzing potential 2023 draft prospects.

“This Nick Herbig is a different type of athlete”, said Baldinger. “…He’s a player, a (big) hope. He’s getting bigger and stronger right now. I can’t wait to see his last year.”

As he did last summer, Herbig spent time training at the Bro Barn in May with his brother, Nate, who is an offensive lineman for the New York Jets. Philadelphia Eagles offensive lineman Lane Johnson owns the facility, located in a former stable on his property in suburban New Jersey. Baldinger met the band at practice on May 26.

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