first_imgJoe Monty is not the fastest or most athletic defensive lineman, nor does he have attention-grabbing statistics. However, for Wisconsin defensive line coach John Palermo, he is the ideal football player.”Joe is such a smart, intelligent football player, and that is why he is playing,” Palermo said. “It’s not because of athleticism, it is because he is tough physically, loves football and plays the game the way it was meant to be played.”Monty’s love of football is evident. He has battled through plaguing injuries this year and worked hard to rehabilitate and return to the football field. His toughness might come from his upbringing. Football is in Joe Monty’s blood. The defensive lineman is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Pete, Wisconsin’s career tackle leader, and his father, who played at Notre Dame. His storied football family, as well as his large physique (6-foot-2, 252 pounds), demonstrates his innate magnetism to playing hard-nosed, competitive collegiate football as a defensive lineman.”Every week, my dad and brother tell me to keep my pad level down,” Monty said, referring to the tough clashes with offensive linemen. “I want to be known as a tough guy who comes out and hits you every single play.”For Monty, playing time has significantly increased this year. Last year’s dominant defensive line, led by Erasmus James, left for the NFL. As a result, Monty is filling in as the experienced upperclassman defensive leader. While it’s hard to replace linemen the caliber of James and Co., Palermo believes Monty has been a respectable successor.”I think Joe has had a great year,” Palermo said. “He is the glue that holds the defensive line together.”For the most part, Monty and the defense, while not dominant, have been satisfied with the team’s overall performance. Though the Penn State game was a tough loss, it does not wipe out an entire season of overall accomplishment.”It was a little disappointing the way we played against Penn State because we had a chance to win the Big Ten championship, but it has been a good season,” Monty said. Individually, Monty has recorded a respectable 2.5 sacks, tied for second on the team.However, Monty’s focus is not on personal goals and accumulation of statistics. Instead, he looks to just help the team. For instance, when asked about personal goals for the rest of the year, he responded immediately with an emphasis on the Badger team going to a prestigious bowl game.”The goal for this year is to win out the rest of the season, get to a Jan. 1 bowl game and win,” Monty said, simply and honestly. Monty subsequently answered the question about personal goals by modestly saying, “I just want to keep playing.”Monty perhaps proves the point that the way a player carries himself is just as important as his athletic ability. His strong work ethic and intensive work in the weight room has compensated for his lack of speed on the field. Monty’s example epitomizes the quiet, unforeseen success of Wisconsin this season. The Badgers were unranked in the preseason and predicted to finish in the middle of the Big Ten. Yet to this point in time, they have proven their critics wrong. And, to a certain extent, one has to think Monty, the hard-working, tough leader of the defensive line, has had an instrumental role in the team’s reputable 8-2 record.Palermo is very appreciative to have a player like Monty and hopes that Badger football standards are modeled after his strong personal traits — otherwise he believes the team will head in the wrong direction.”If every kid on the defensive line — and, for that matter, the defense — doesn’t look up to a Joe Monty, we got the wrong guys playing for us,” Palermo said. “He is a great student and model citizen.”last_img