Zander Neuville’s University of Wisconsin football career may be over.
The fifth-year senior tight end suffered a season-ending left knee injury during practice earlier this week.
“That was unfortunate,” UW coach Paul Chryst said. “As a team, you’ve got to be able to overcome that, but you feel terrible for (Neuville) and him having to go through that.”
Neuville pushed himself to return in time for this season after he tore the ACL in his right knee against Minnesota in UW’s regular-season finale last year.
He was also on his way back from nursing a different right leg injury. He played five snaps against Iowa two weeks ago before the Badgers’ bye and was no longer listed on the injury report earlier this week. Chryst said Neuville was “the best he’s felt” before this week’s season-ending injury.
“You feel like you’re coming out of that tunnel. There’s light,” Chryst said. “He’ll respond, but those are tough.”
Neuville has not missed two full seasons due to injury and already redshirted during his initial year with the Badgers in 2014, meaning he likely won’t be granted a sixth year of eligibility.
“It’s so hard for me because the football part of it, we will and you have to and you want to cover all the basis, for lack of a better term,” Chryst said. “But the individual component of it, and I think there’s a little bit more when it’s their senior season. You hate to see someone that you care about go through that.”
The Badgers’ running game struggled to find consistency in their loss to BYU on Sept. 15 when Neuville left on the second play from scrimmage. With Neuville very limited against the Hawkeyes, UW used offensive linemen Logan Bruss and Jason Erdmann as blocking tight ends.
Chryst said UW will get Luke Benzschawel, the Badgers’ No. 2 blocking tight end behind Neuville, back from a right leg injury this week, which could soften the impact of Neuville’s absence.
“Certainly, it gives you options,” Chryst said. “… A lot of different people have to step up and overcome it, whether it’s through schematics or individuals.”
Van Ginkel still questionable
Outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel reamins questionable entering Saturday’s game against Nebraska at Camp Randall Stadium.
The senior suffered a right ankle injury in the first quarter of UW’s loss to BYU on Sept. 15 and played just five snaps the following week at Iowa.
“We’ve gotten a little bit more from him leading up to (this week’s) game than we did before,” Chryst said. “We’re certainly hoping (he can play more), but hope’s not a method, either.”
Cornerbacks Caesar Williams (left leg) and Travian Blaylock (right leg) were both added to the injury report as questionable Thursday. Cornerback Faion Hicks (right thumb) and tight end Luke Benzschawel (right leg) are also still listed as questionable, although both are expected to play against the Cornhuskers.