Jonathan Casillas #54 LB
Height: 6-1 Weight: 227 Age: 28
Born: 6/3/1987 Jersey City , NJ
Experience: 7th season
High School: New Brunswick HS [NJ]
The scrappy weak-side linebacker was the pulse of the Badgers defense ever since he was inserted into the lineup as a sophomore. In his first season as a starter, he sparked a unit that ranked fifth in the nation and led the Big Ten Conference in total defense (253.08 ypg) and finished second nationally in scoring defense (12.08 ppg).
But they sorely missed their field general in 2008, as Casillas missed the first two games and postseason action while playing the rest of the year at less than 100 percent due to a fall camp knee injury that required surgery in December. That led to a squad that finished 37th nationally in total defense (329.08 ypg) and 66th in scoring defense (26.54 ppg).
Casillas was a 190-pound dynamo at New Brunswick High School. He was a member of Super Prep's New Jersey Top 35 team, adding first-team All-State, All-County and County Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2004. The team captain and MVP recorded 90 tackles, including 20 stops behind the line of scrimmage and sixteen sacks as a senior.
Casillas also excelled as a receiver, as he also made 20 catches for 410 yards and eight touchdowns in 2004. For his career, he registered 228 tackles, 36 sacks, 50 stops for loss, 11 forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. He earned a combined 10 letters in track, football and basketball.
Casillas enrolled at Wisconsin in 2005 and made an immediate impact on special teams. He also saw brief action behind senior LaMarr Watkins at strong-side outside linebacker, despite weighing in at just 200 pounds. He recorded 10 tackles (3 solos), assisting on a stop behind the line of scrimmage. He also blocked two punts for a total of 38 yards in returns.
Casillas bulked up to 214 pounds in 2006, as he shifted to weak-side outside linebacker and also discarded his 2005 jersey No. 46 for No. 2, wearing that number the rest of his career. He earned All-Big Ten Conference honorable mention as a 13-game starter, ranking third on the team with 83 tackles (53 solos). He provided two sacks and a career-high 12.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He blocked another punt that he returned 12 yards for a touchdown and had his first career interception.
Voted one of five team captains as a junior, the Bednarik Award and Lombardi Award Watch List member led the team with a career-high 96 tackles (57 solos). He had one sack among his nine stops for loss and also caused two fumbles while starting all 13 games at weak-side linebacker.
The 2008 season got off to a rough start for Casillas, as he did not play in the first two games vs. Akron and Marshall due to a left knee injury in preseason camp. He started the next 10 games, but underwent arthroscopic surgery in December to repair cartilage and medial collateral ligament damage, missing the Champs Sports Bowl. He still managed to finish third on the squad with 62 tackles (34 solos), adding a sack and six stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also had a 49-yard interception return.