Badgers inside linebacker T.J. Edwards earns first-team All-Big Ten honor
University of Wisconsin inside linebacker T.J. Edwards earned first-team All-Big Ten honors when the conference’s defensive teams were announced Tuesday on BTN Live.
The All-Big Ten offensive teams and awards will be announced on BTN Live at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The media named Edwards to the first team, while the coaches selected him to the second team. The fifth-year senior stands as the only first- or second-team selection on the Badgers’ defense, a major change from 2017, when the unit placed six on the first two teams and 12 overall.
Safety D’Cota Dixon (consensus), inside linebacker Ryan Connelly (coaches) and outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel (coaches) earned third-team honors. Connelly and Van Ginkel were honorable mention selections by the media, while the coaches gave kicker Rafael Gaglianone an honorable mention nod.
Edwards, a four-year starter, is arguably playing the best football of his career. He’s recorded double-digit tackle totals in five of his last seven games, including 18 on Saturday against Minnesota.
Now at 104 tackles on the season, the Lake Villa, Ill., native became the first UW linebacker to break the 100-tackle mark since Chris Borland in 2013.
Connelly isn’t far behind, recording 89 tackles this year after leading the Badgers with 88 last season. Also a fifth-year senior, Connelly was named a Butkus Award semifinalist after Edwards earned a spot as a finalist for that honor last season.
“It’s special right now the way our inside linebackers are playing,” UW coach Paul Chryst said earlier this month. “I mean, those two are flying around.”
Dixon, a third-year starter who earned first-team honors from the coaches in 2017, recorded 43 tackles in nine games this season.
He’s also receiving recognition off the field. Dixon was named one of 13 semifinalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, awarded annually to the best scholar-athlete in the nation, and earned a spot on the American Football Coaches’ Association Good Works team.
″(Dixon) just brings a certain type of energy that’s infectious to the entire defense,” UW inside linebacker Chris Orr said. “He’s passionate. You know he means everything he’s saying to you. You just feel his presence, especially when you’re out there on the field with him.”
Van Ginkel earned his third-team honor despite struggling through an ankle injury for a big chunk of the year.
The senior didn’t miss a game, however, and leads the team with 4.5 sacks to go with 52 tackles (7.5 for loss).
Gaglianone made 10-of-15 field goals and converted all 43 extra points. His 70 career field goals are a program record.
Michigan linebacker Devin Bush won the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award.