University of Wisconsin defensive end Chikwe Obasih suffered an injury during Wednesday’s practice, according to a UW official.
The injury is to his knee, per a report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but UW did not confirm that detail. The severity of Obasih’s injury and timetable for his return remain unknown.
Obasih’s a major piece to one of the Badgers’ best position groups. The fifth-year senior has started 31 games in his career, including 11 games last season and all 13 games in 2015 for a Badgers defense that ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense.
Obasih isn’t the first key member of UW’s front seven to go down this fall. Inside linebacker Jack Cichy, an All-American candidate this season, tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Aug. 8 and will miss the entire season. Outside linebacker Zack Baun is also out for the year with a left foot injury after UW expected the sophomore to see an increased rotational role at his position.
If Obasih misses an extended period of time, the Badgers have the depth to replace him. Alec James and Conor Sheehy were the first defensive ends to take the field against Utah State last week, and the two have 33 combined career starts.
Redshirt freshman Isaiahh Loudermilk, who recorded a sack in his first career game against the Aggies, will likely see more snaps in Obasih’s potential absence.
“It was just getting his feet under him,” UW defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard said of Loudermilk’s first game. “That first action, just feeling comfortable and trusting the fact that what you’ve seen on tape is what’s in front of you on Saturdays. It was good. Energy was high, and he was productive. Made some plays. He left some out there. That’s the beauty of it. He left some out there, and now he’s continuing to grow and just see how the details will affect him.”
Loudermilk, who stands 6-foot-7 and 306 pounds, could do well with the opportunity for more playing time.
The former eight-man high school player has impressed since developmental practices in December, and Leonhard said Wednesday that he’s a quick learner.
“He understands football,” Leonhard said. “I think he has a really good understanding of football, and he works at it. That’s the biggest thing. He wants to learn, and he puts in the time. He trusts his coaching and just goes out there and plays.”