'Uncle' Ryan Connelly steps into spotlight for Badgers - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

'Uncle' Ryan Connelly steps into spotlight for Badgers

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MADISON (WKOW) -

Up until Saturday, Ryan Connelly was living in the shadows on the Badgers bench. Few fans knew his name and his teammates often referred to him as something else.

"Ryan is a quiet guy," says fellow linebacker TJ Watt. "We call him 'The Uncle' because he has a receding hairline."

Connelly takes the jest in stride.

"I'll take it. I realize the hair may not be there in a couple years. It's water off my back at this point. I've heard them all."

That nickname may soon be catching on among Badgers fans who are finally getting to see the former walk-on in action. The sophomore was pressed into action when Chris Orr went down with a season-ending injury on the opening drive against LSU. With TJ Edwards already out with injury, the Badgers turned to Connelly. He responded with seven tackles.

"I didn't really have time to be nervous. Even though it was the first play. I didn't have to spend Friday night worrying or the weeks leading up worrying. I just had to go in and do what we've been preparing for, which made it a lot easier for me." 

The Minnesota native also made a huge tackle on Leonard Fournette on a screen play to stall a crucial drive.

"You look at Connelly. He stepped in," says senior Sojourn Shelton. "He made probably the best play I've ever seen in my life. I've been playing football for a long time. He made a tremendous play. Guys can see that."

Connelly will likely get his first start on Saturday as the Badgers host Akron at 2:30 p.m. in the home opener.

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