Chenal with Coach

Leo Chenal with Badgers Head Coach Paul Chryst during Chenal’s official visit to Madison last summer.

The Associated Press released their list of “14 Big Ten football players poised to break out in the fall.” It includes Grantsburg alumni Leo Chenal who will be a freshman on the UW Badgers team at linebacker this season.

“At 6-2, 239 pounds, he appears physically ready,” Eric Olson of the Associated Press wrote. “In three open practices, he picked off two passes and returned one for a touchdown.”

Badgers coach Paul Chryst spoke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this year about Chenal’s opportunity this season as a freshman.

“Leo is a good football player and he is getting the opportunity to get a lot of reps,” Chryst said. “At some point you’re earning those reps. They are given to you initially or there is a rotation.

“But I’ve loved his approach to everything. He is attacking the spring like you’d want. I think he’s got a chance to be a good football player. Certainly, there is a lot he has to figure out, but he has put himself in position.”

Chenal’s new teammates were also recognizing his talents back in April.

“He impressed me the first day we came out and he was barking out calls,” tailback Garrett Groshek said when asked about Chenal, one of several freshmen who enrolled at UW in January. “It is always good to have a vocal guy, especially with him being at the ‘mike’ spot because he’s got to direct people. He’ll be promising.”

The Associated Press picked a student athlete from each of the Big Ten schools. The list included Minnesota linebacker Thomas Rush.

“He played running back in high school, so it has taken him some time to get a feel for playing on the other side of the ball,” Olson said. “He saw spot duty backing up MLB Thomas Barber last season, but there’s a starting spot open on the outside with the departures of Blake Cashman and Julian Huff.”

The Badgers season starts with a road game in Tampa Bay, Fla. against the University of South Florida on August 30. The Golden Gophers start their season at home against South Dakota State on August 29.