- Jack Cichy's unique journey from walk-on to Wisconsin star took a disappointing turn this week with news that his 2017 season is lost to a torn ACL.
Wisconsin got some terrible news Thursday when head coach Paul Chryst announced senior inside linebacker Jack Cichy will miss the 2017 season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Cichy isn’t just a key playmaker for the Badgers’ defense; he’s also a team leader and a great example of the development aspect of the program. His rise to stardom is also one of the cool things about college football.
“You hate it for Jack,” Chryst said. “You only get so many chances to play this game and you never want to see a guy miss any of those opportunities. He’s one of the leaders of our team and I know he’ll be a big part of what we do moving forward this season.”
Cichy grew up in a small town of about 1,200 in Wisconsin. He was overlooked in the recruiting process as a 6' 1", 185-pound high schooler. With no major college pursuing him, he was considering Princeton and Holy Cross before then Badgers assistant Bill Busch offered him the chance to walk on at Wisconsin.
Asked this summer if the Badgers’ strong track record of walk-ons becoming key contributors helped make his decision, Cichy told SI, "Honestly, It wasn’t even that. My dad and I talked and I knew that if I got an opportunity that I’d make good on it. I didn’t know if I’d do anything other than special teams. But I’d play some and whether I’d play a defensive snap or not was irrelevant. I wanted to be the best football player I could be, and if I didn’t go to the highest level, I would’ve always thought ‘What if?’ I could’ve been an All-American at Holy Cross, but what about the next level?”
Cichy blossomed into a star in Madison thanks to his work ethic and the Badgers’ system. He says going up against some of the best O-linemen in college football has been invaluable in his development. Now weighing in at 6' 1" and 235, Cichy was voted a team captain for the 2017 season. His best attributes on the field have been his lateral movement and his football smarts, and he earned All-Big Ten honorable mention last season despite missing the Badgers’ final seven games due to injury. In his seven starts, Cichy recorded 60 tackles, 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Cichy suffered the injury during practice Tuesday. He is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday. There is the possibility that Cichy and Wisconsin could push for an additional season of eligibility, since he has already used his redshirt season, but a source told SI Thursday that those discussions haven’t been had yet.