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Wisconsin football assistant coach profiles: outside linebackers coach Bobby April

An overview of Wisconsin assistant coach Bobby April, who is back for a fifth season as the outside linebackers coach.
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The Wisconsin Badgers football coaching staff underwent an uncharacteristically high amount of change since the team beat Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl on December 30.

With several new coaches on the staff, and multiple retained coaches shifting responsibilities, All Badgers will spend the next week providing an overview of each position coach on head coach Paul Chryst's coaching staff.

Previously covered position coaches:

In the final edition of our rolling position coach previews, we wrap things up with assistant coach Bobby April, who is one of the top coaches on the staff. 

Wisconsin outside linebackers coach Bobby April during Las Vegas bowl preparation. (Credit: David Stluka/UW Athletics)

Wisconsin outside linebackers coach Bobby April has quickly become one of the most important staff members for Paul Chryst and the Badgers. 

Name: Bobby April III

Role: Outside linebackers coach/defensive run game coordinator

Hometown: Bobby April was born in Tucson, Arizona

High School: Saint Paul's Episcopal High School in Louisiana

Alma mater: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Years at Wisconsin: Bobby April joined the Wisconsin Badgers coaching staff in 2018 and is entering his fifth season as outside linebackers coach at UW.

College career: Bobby April did not play collegiately for the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns, but instead was a student assistant for the football team in college. In addition to helping the division one program out during the season, April also interned with the Saint Louis Rams (2002), Jacksonville Jaguars (2003), and Buffalo Bills (2004) during the summer months.

Previous coaching experience: April has been around coaching his entire life. After his time as a student assistant and NFL intern, he became a graduate assistant at Tulane University in New Orleans. Following two years at Tulane, April accepted a position as the special teams and inside linebackers coach at FCS Portland State under former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville. Three years later, April would return to Louisana as the safeties and special teams coach at Nicholls State, also of the FCS level.

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His big break came in 2011 when the Philadelphia Eagles hired him as a defensive quality control coach, where he worked closely with the secondary. The New York Jets would go on to hire him as an assistant linebackers coach in 2013, and he would become the full-time linebackers coach in 2014. The Buffalo Bills hired him away in 2015, and he spent two seasons overseeing their linebackers before becoming the outside linebackers coach at Wisconsin in 2018.

As a recruiter: A strong case can be made that Bobby April is the top recruiting position coach on Wisconsin's recruiting staff heading into the 2022 season. April has shown a willingness to identify and recruit prospects to Madison from across the country. His primary duties on the recruiting front start with the outside linebacker room, a position where he has elevated the overall depth immensely since taking over. April has had a hand in landing several four-star players at outside linebackers from the Midwest like Kaden Johnson and TJ Bollers but also was instrumental in helping the Badgers add highly-rated three-stars such as Darryl Peterson, Spencer Lytle, and safety Austin Brown.

April has also created a nice pipeline for the Badgers at the Saint Louis School in Honolulu, Hawaii. April was the primary recruiter for Nick Herbig, and he has since added transfer Kamo'i Latu and three-star wide receiver Trech Kekahuna from the high school. Wisconsin is also after another 2024 outside linebacker from Hawaii that April is leading the charge for in Anelu Lafaele.

In the 2023 recruiting class, April was able to get three-star Jordan Mayer out of Pennsylvania last month, and he has the Badgers inside the final three for top-100 player Tackett Curtis out of his home state of Louisiana. If April can land Curtis, it would constitute one of the biggest recruiting wins in program history. Curtis is also considering Ohio State and USC, but April has put in an amazing effort to give Wisconsin a good chance of winning his recruitment.

Coaching trends: Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard rightfully gets most of the praise when it comes to Wisconsin's success on defense. One of the best assistant coaches in all of college football, Leonhard is the mastermind behind the Badgers' defensive scheme. Bobby April has also played a key role though, as the defensive run game coordinator. Wisconsin finished the 2021 season as one of the top-2 defenses in all of college football and ranked as the No. 1 run defense in the NCAA.

April works closely with Leonhard on all things concerning the front seven, and his ability to develop players like Andrew Van Ginkel, Zach Baun, and Nick Herbig is a big reason that the Badgers can be creative up front.

Heading into the 2022 season, April's position group is arguably the top overall unit on the team, and his expertise and personable approach to coaching, make him a rising coach in the profession. This past off-season, April was reportedly a candidate for the Michigan defensive coordinator position, and I would not be shocked if he earned a chance to be a coordinator down the road if that is something he wants in the future.

Four miscellaneous facts:

  • Bobby April III is the son of long-time NFL assistant coach Bobby April II. His father spent around 30 years as a defensive and special teams coach, and was the Special Teams Coach of the Year in the NFL twice, in 2004 and 2008.
  • While Bobby April was not on the Bills or Jets staff while Jim Leonhard played for both teams, the two coaches share ties to former NFL head coach Rex Ryan.
  • Zack Baun was a consensus first-team All-American under April's tutelage, while Nick Herbig is on the preseason watch list for the Lott Impact Trophy
  • Andrew Van Ginkel and Zack Baun were each NFL Draft picks after playing outside linebacker for Coach April. 

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