While the final results of the regular season were somewhat of a letdown for the Wisconsin Badgers football team, several players have earned postseason awards over the past two weeks.
11 total players came away with some sort of All-Big Ten acknowledgment by the conference, while freshman Skyler Bell recently earned honorable mention Freshman All-American honors by College Football News earlier this week.
While the recent hiring of Luke Fickell and offensive coordinator Phil Longo are currently dominating the headlines for UW, on Wednesday four players from the 2022 team came away with All-Big Ten honors by the Associated Press.
Representing Wisconsin on the first team were outside linebacker Nick Herbig and safety John Torchio.
In his third season as a full-time starter for the Badgers, Herbig put together a huge season in 2022. Herbig led the Big Ten in sacks this year with 11, which was 3.5 more than the next highest in the conference. He also added 47 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss, showcasing his abilities to create havoc in the backfield consistently, while playing in 11 games. Herbig was a consensus First-Team All-Big Ten selection by the league as well, and recently made the national Walter Camp Foundation All-American Team as a second-team pick.
For Herbig, it will now be interesting to track what he does next season, as his name has been elevated on NFL Draft boards based on his strong junior campaign. Arguably the best player on Wisconsin’s entire team in 2022, if he were to return it would be a significant win for Luke Fickell and the defensive staff.
Also joining Herbig with the first team is senior safety John Torchio, who finished the regulars season with five interceptions, second-most in the Big Ten. He also took two of those interceptions back for touchdowns and finished with the fifth-most tackles on the team with 52 total. Torchio had a sack and five pass breakups too while starting all 12 games for the Badgers. Torchio was also a first-team section by the Big Ten and was chosen as Wisconsin’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Honoree for his leadership and consummate professionalism on the field.
Torchio has already announced that he will test the NFL Draft and will not be coming back for a sixth season in Madison. The former walk-on is another shining example of Wisconsin’s stellar player development.
Beyond Herbig and Torchio, senior defensive tackle Keeanu Benton was a second-team selection by the Associated Press after putting together the best numbers of his career.
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The highly effective nose tackle recorded 35 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks, all while routinely battling double teams in the interior of the defensive line. One of the team captains for the Badgers in 2022, Benton played a key role in Wisconsin’s defense and he will likely have a strong NFL career. A season ago Benton was a Second-Team All-Big Ten pick, and his play this past season only further strengthens his legacy at Wisconsin. From Janesville (Wis.), Benton made the decision to come back to UW after receiving NFL interest a year ago, and he is set to participate in the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl in January before heading to the NFL this season.
Last, but certainly not least, star running back Braelon Allen made the AP Second-Team All-Big Ten team. The 240-pound sophomore surpassed 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season in Madison and recently made the All-Big Ten team for a second-straight year as well.
Allen is just the fifth player in Wisconsin program history to rush for 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, and he ultimately finished the 2022 season with 1,126 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing the final game of the season against Minnesota. Allen also added 11 receptions for 104 yards through the air.
Since the coaching change, Allen has squashed any transfer rumors, Tweeting that he is a Wisconsin Badger. The news of his return is significant for Wisconsin as they look to build the offense around their star tailback, who will also have a healthy Chez Mellusi to run alongside him after Mellusi shared that he will return in 2023.
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