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Former Wisconsin Football Coach Jim Leonhard Finds New Job in NFL

Former Wisconsin football coach Jim Leonhard has found a home in the NFL.



Wisconsin Football; Badgers legend Jim Leonhard & current defensive coordinator Mike Tressel named as potential candidates for Michigan State Job
Nov 26, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard prior to the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Former Wisconsin Badgers football coach Jim Leonhard has found his new home in the NFL. 

According to a report by ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the UW legend will join Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos to coach the secondary. 

It was reported last week that Leonhard was still on Bret Bielema’s coaching staff, but he expressed interest in stepping up to the NFL. Bielema stated that Leonhard had “irons in the fire,” hinting that the former Badgers DC would go to the league, and the news became official in short order.

Former Wisconsin Football DC Jim Leonhard Finds Home in the NFL

Wisconsin Badgers football legend Jim Leonhard

Nov 5, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard looks on during the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Leonhard spent this past season with the Illinois Fighting Illini as a senior football assistant. The former Badgers defensive coordinator served as Wisconsin’s interim head coach for the final seven games of the 2022 season following the firing of Paul Chryst, leading the UW to a 4-3 record. Leonhard would move on from the program after Luke Fickell was hired as head coach.

The Ladysmith, Wisconsin native began his coaching career at UW overseeing the defensive backs. He stepped up to defensive coordinator in 2017 while still coaching defensive backs up to his departure from the program. In his six seasons with the Badgers, Leonhard led the Wisconsin defense to four finishes in the top 10 in points per game and total yardage allowed.

Leonhard’s experience as a defensive backs coach, paired with his time spent in the pros as a safety, will be very beneficial as he makes the transition to the NFL. He’ll oversee a cornerback corps including Pat Surtain II, Justin Simmons, Fabian Moreau, and P.J. Locke, among others. 

It will be worth monitoring how Denver’s secondary fares under Leonhard’s direction. Best of luck to the Wisconsin Badgers legend in the next step of his football journey.

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Jake Maier is the managing editor and publisher at He has provided coaching and editorial support to numerous writers in his role, contributing significantly to the platform's growth. His expertise extends to Wisconsin Badgers football, basketball, and recruiting coverage. Jake's previous bylines can be found at Fansided and Wisconsin Sports Heroics.