Badgers: LB Leo Chenal announces decision to turn pro

There was always going to be major turnover on Wisconsin’s defense after the 2021 season. The group was filled with seven seniors that played a big role in making the unit among the best in the country. But the Badgers will also be losing their best player as junior linebacker Leo Chenal announced Monday he would be foregoing his final year of eligibility and entering the 2022 NFL Draft.

“Growing up as a kid in Wisconsin it’s everyone’s dream to wear the W on the side of your helmet one day and play in Camp Randall. I’ve been honored to do that these past three years alongside my brother, John, who has pushed me every day to be better. I’m beyond thankful for Coach Haering, who recruited me from a small town to come play for this fine institution. I’m also thankful for Coach Chryst and Coach Bostad for coaching me hard and pushing me to new limits.”

Chenal stepped into a starting role in 2020 before having a breakout 2021 campaign. Despite missing the first two games after testing positive for COVID-19, Chenal went on to lead Wisconsin in tackles (115), tackles for loss (18.5) and finished second in sacks (8.0). He was a first-team All-Big Ten linebacker and named the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year while earning consensus second-team All-American honors.

With Chenal leaving, Wisconsin will need to replace eight starters on defense, including three of its four linebackers.