Sophomore shines in rare opportunity

first_imgLUKAS KEAPPROTH/Herald photoFollowing a big road win at Indiana, the Wisconsin Badgers are one step away from finding themselves in a bowl game. The win against the Hoosiers came in dominating fashion, as the Badgers shut out Indiana in the second half. The defense played a solid game and got contributions from everyone, especially at the linebacker position.Culmer St. Jean was inserted into the lineup following an injury sustained by starting middle linebacker Jaevery McFadden. St. Jean, a sophomore from Naples, Fla., saw all the extensive work pay off, and he got his first extended game action of the season.“To get to apply the hard work against an actual opponent felt real good,” St. Jean said.The talented second-year linebacker started two games for UW last season and has waited for another opportunity to contribute to the defense during the 2008 campaign. St. Jean understands his role but is not afraid to acknowledge the strides he is making day in and day out.“I see that I am improving as a player, and I am patiently waiting until I get my opportunity to play with the [starters],” he said.Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren was pleased with the performance of his unit Saturday and was particularly satisfied with the play of St. Jean. However, most onlookers may not have realized his presence on the field.“Nobody noticed him out there, which is usually a good sign,” Doeren explained. “I thought he played really well; he was in the right spot, made some good calls for the D-line, and I was proud of him.”St. Jean may not have made any glaring mistakes, but the linebacker is very critical of his own play and knows he can make many improvements.“There are a lot of things that I did well, but there are also some things that I did wrong,” St. Jean said. “I am my hardest critic, and sometimes I think I can be a little too hard on myself.”St. Jean might have some corrections to make, but he felt great on the field and never doubted his abilities.“I immediately got in that zone and felt real comfortable out there,” he said.The position St. Jean plays for the Badgers is one requiring true leadership qualities. The middle linebacker functions as the signal caller and is forced to handle a lot of responsibility. St. Jeans’ success at linebacker could be attributed to his history as a multi-position player at the high school level. Aside from playing safety in high school, St. Jean made significant contributions on the offensive end.“He was a quarterback in high school, so he has some natural leadership ability and command in the huddle,” Doeren said.St. Jean’s leadership ability is a crucial asset he brings to the table, but the changes in position are not easy to make, and Doeren understands the difficulty of the transition.“It has been a learning curve for sure,” Doeren said, “but he is a very strong kid who loves hitting people.”The combination of leadership and physicality make St. Jean an intriguing player whom Doeren knows has a lot of potential.For now, St. Jean will continue to play his role for Doeren’s defense, while contributing on special teams. McFadden is expected to be ready for this Saturday’s showdown with Minnesota, but St. Jean explained his mindset would not change.“I prepare every week the same because you never know when your name is going to be called,” St. Jean said.Interestingly enough, St. Jean was recruited by the Gophers, and he can attest firsthand to the battles that occur on and off the field in this storied rivalry.“It is a big rivalry and the axe means a lot,” he said.St. Jean may not see extended action on Saturday, but the linebacker’s time will come, and Doeren is excited too see what the future holds for St. Jean.“He is a very good young player, one who is going to play here for a long time,” Doeren said.last_img read more