Wisconsin Sports Network and WisSports.net are happy to announce Grafton's J.P. Benzschawel as the 2020 recipient of the Joe Thomas Award as the most outstanding senior offensive lineman in Wisconsin, part of the WSN Senior Football Awards.
The latest Benzschawel to go through Grafton, J.P. Benzschawel joins older brothers Beau (Wisconsin and now the Detroit Lions) and Luke (Wisconsin) as Division 1 recruits, and like his older siblings, will head to Wisconsin, giving the Badgers an early commitment.
A massive, dominating force up front for the Black Hawks, he has been a four-year varsity performer on some of the top offensive units in school history.
"He is by far the most athletic and hardest working offensive lineman I have coached," said Grafton head coach Jim Norris.
It's not just his head coach that speaks highly of him.
"J.P. is a player that many in the program look up to due to his work ethic on the field, in the weight room and in many other aspects of football," said junior offensive lineman Brock Jasinski. "He also is the first person to welcome new players to the program by helping them work on their craft and develop them into better football players."
Finalists for the award were Benzschawel, Ben Janowski of Menomonee Falls, Evan Ladwig of Plymouth, Kyle Mason of Muskego, Marcus Mbow of Wauwatosa East, and Jim Schwaab of Catholic Memorial.
Past winners include Waunakee's Jake Irwin (2009), Wisconsin Rapids' Frank Vruwink (2010), Waukesha West's Connor Stefanski (2011), Wisconsin Rapids' Hayden Biegel (2012), Monona Grove's Jaden Gault (2013), Seymour's Jon Dietzen (2014), Arrowhead's Ben Bredeson (2015), Middleton's Kayden Lyles (2016), Waukesha West's Bryce Teixeira (2017), and Fond du Lac's Andrew Stone (2018).
The award is named after Joe Thomas, a graduate of Brookfield Central High School now playing in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. Thomas was a three-sport athlete in high school, lettering all four years in football, basketball, and track and field while also being named to the Honor Roll all four years. He started 37 games at left tackle for the Badgers and won the Outland Trophy after his senior season. After an All-American career at UW, Thomas was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl each of his first ten years in the league and is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.
The voting panel for the WSN Senior Football Awards consisted of: Travis Wilson, WSN General Manager and Head Football Writer; Norbert Durst, WSN Content Manager; Dennis Semrau, ESPN Madison; B.J. DeGroot, WSCO The Score 95.3 in Appleton; Curt Hogg, NOW Newspapers; Dan Barwick, WSN Contributor; Colton Wilson, WSN Content Producer; Fan Vote
Travis Wilson serves as the WisSports.net General Manager, Football Editor, and contributing writer for other parts of the site. Wilson was selected as part of the Sports 40 Under 40 list by Coach & AD Magazine and the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for 2019. The Wisconsin Football Coaches Association (WFCA) named Travis the 2015 recipient of the Dave McClain Distinguished Service Award. He currently serves on the WFCA Executive Board as the Website and Communications Director and is a member of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association. A graduate of Richland Center High School and Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Travis was a three-sport athlete in high school (football, baseball, basketball) and currently resides in Reedsburg. You can follow him on Twitter at @travisWSN.
For the latest and most up to date football news and recruiting information, follow Travis on Twitter @travisWSN. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Travis at travis(at)wissports.net.