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Wisconsin Badgers Starting Linebacker Injured, Undergoes Surgery

The Wisconsin football team got some disappointing news on Monday evening.



Wisconsin badgers football linebacker Maema Njongmeta
Wisconsin linebacker Maema Njongmeta arrives before a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. 221112 Wisc Iowa Fb 110 Jpg

Luke Fickell and the Wisconsin football program revealed some disappointing news on Monday evening. Badgers star linebacker Maema Njongmeta was seen by reporters wearing a sling after practice — and learned he would be out for a couple of days after undergoing a surgical procedure on his hand this week. 

When Njongmeta returns, Fickell also mentioned the likelihood of the senior linebacker wearing a club on his right hand for further protection. 

Wisconsin Football Will Be Without Starting LB Maema Njongmeta for a While

Welp, it goes without saying that the loss of Maema Njongmeta, even temporarily, is significant news for Wisconsin football. 

At 6 feet and 240 pounds, Njongmeta has the size and athleticism to be a dominant force in the middle of the Badgers defense. He showed promising flashes of his potential in 2022, leading UW with a team-high 95 tackles, adding 25 pressures, 12.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks, and an interception en route to Third-team All-Big Ten honors.

The redshirt senior from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, has a solid foundation to build on, considering he has the highest Pro Football Focus grade among returning linebackers across the country (89.9). At the end of the year, the game appeared to slow down for Njongmeta, who logged sacks in four straight games to close the regular season. He also compiled at least eight tackles in seven of the 12 regular season games, so he was around the ball quite often. 

But what sets Njongmeta apart is his instincts and football IQ. He has a knack for reading plays, playing aggressively, and quickly getting to the ball carrier, highlighted by his Wisconsin football team-high 47 stops last season.

While Njongmeta is out with injury, the Badgers will move forward with a strong duo at inside linebacker that consists of returning starter Jordan Turner and up-and-comer Jake Chaney, who is also of starting quality.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.