Badgers sending six to showcase talents in Senior Bowl


Ewing, Nortman, Toon, Wilson, Wojta and Zeitler make up school-record contingent headed to Mobile

 MOBILE, Ala. — Ladd-Peebles Stadium may look like Camp Randall South when NFL personnel descend on Mobile in two weeks for the 2012 Senior Bowl. Wisconsin will have a school-record six players on this year’s North squad, including quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Nick Toon, offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, fullback Bradie Ewing, punter Brad Nortman and long snapper Kyle Wojta. All six players have officially accepted invitations to  the senior showcase event, it was announced today. The 63rd Senior Bowl is scheduled for 3 p.m. (CT) on Jan. 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. The game and all practices leading up to the event are televised live by NFL Network.


 “This is the most players we’ve ever had at one time from Wisconsin and it speaks volumes to the amount of talent the Badgers had this year,” Senior Bowl president and CEO Steve Hale said. “Every one of these players played a big role in helping Wisconsin to an 11-3 season and a Big Ten championship.”


 The Senior Bowl annually features the nation’s best senior college football players and top NFL draft prospects on teams coached by NFL coaching staffs. Senior Bowl practices and game week festivities are attended by more than 800 general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts and other front office personnel from all 32 NFL teams.


 Wilson, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, was named the Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year in the Big Ten after a record-setting season for the Badgers. He set the NCAA single-season record for pass efficiency (191.8) while also setting school marks for passing yards (3,175), touchdown passes (33), completions (225) and yards of total offense (3,513). He also tied the Badgers’ single season school record with 40 touchdowns responsible for (33 passing, 6 rushing, 1 receiving) and posted UW’s second-best completion percentage of all time (.728) — all while leading the Badgers to a second-consecutive Big Ten championship.


 “You see some of the great players in other conferences playing but you don’t always get to compete against them and now it’s an opportunity to compete at the highest level against some of the best players in the country and that’s always exciting,” Wilson said.


 The transfer from NC State closed out his career connecting on 19 of 26 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns and added a rushing touchdown against Oregon in the Rose Bowl. He was named the MVP of the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game after throwing for 187 yards and three touchdown passes and catching two passes for another 31 yards. For his career, Wilson threw for 11,720 yards and 109 touchdowns, while rushing for an additional 1,421 yards and 23 scores.


 “I’ve played in the ACC and done a good job there and have done a good job in the Big Ten and I’m just trying to improve every day and compete with the best,” Wilson said. “Obviously the height question is always a factor when it comes to me for whatever reason, and I believe that I’ve shown that I can play behind the fourth-biggest offensive line in the country and still be successful.


 “I just have to keep proving myself and have fun with it. It’s a great opportunity to play with some of the greatest players in college football this season

 and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”


 Toon was named second-team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches and was an honorable mention pick by the media this season. The wide receiver had a banner year for the Badgers — notching 64 receptions for 926 yards and 10 touchdowns. He recorded three 100-yard receiving games in 2011, including a 104-yard effort to close out his career in the Rose Bowl. Toon ranks third in Wisconsin history with 2,447 receiving yards and 171 career receptions. He’s fifth all-time with 18 career touchdowns and made 31 career starts.


 Zeitler earned first-team All-America honors from the AFCA and was also a first-team All-Big Ten pick this season after starting all 14 games at right guard for the Badgers. He helped pave the way for Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball to rush for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns this season. He was also a key part of an offensive unit that led the Big Ten in total offense and rushing offense this year. The Waukesha, Wis., native notched 36 career starts for the Badgers, appearing in 43 games overall.


 Ewing, a two-year starter for the Badgers at fullback, also helped open holes during Ball’s breakout season. The Richland Center, Wis., native did not record a single carry in 2011 but did catch 20 passes for 246 yards. He leaves Madison with seven career rushing attempts for 33 yards, 28 receptions for 328 yards and four total touchdowns.

Nortman was a consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2011 after punting 46 times for an average of 42.2 yards per kick. He closed out his career with two punts for 89 yards, including a 56-yarder, in the Rose Bowl. He averaged over 45 yards a punt in four games this season and booted a season-long 74-yarder against Illinois. Nortman finished his career ranked third in school history with a 42.1-yard average and is fourth all-time at Wisconsin with 8,383 yards. His career-long punt came in 2010, a 76-yard boomer against Austin Peay.


 Wojta was a three-year starter for the Badgers, appearing in 39 games as the team’s long snapper. He notched three special teams tackles this season and has six for his career.







Joe Thomas Award Watch List Announced

Ohio State leads way with 3 players on the Joe Thomas Award Watch List

MADISON, Wis –  Yesterday I announced my watch list for the Ron Dayne award for best RB in the Big Ten, today I am announcing the Joe Thomas Award Watch List for the best OL in the Big Ten.  This list was one of the toughest to put together, there are many good OL in the Big Ten.  I’m sure some of you will have some players that I missed on, I would like to hear your feedback, but remember when the list is cut down half way through the season you may see a player or two that isn’t on the watch list that makes the final cut.  I researched a lot to come up with this list, and now here is the 2011 Joe Thomas Award watch list: Mike Brewster (OSU), Mike Adams (OSU), JB Shugarts (OSU), Kevin Zeitler (UW), David Molk (MICH), Riley Reiff (Iowa), Jeff Allen (Illinois), Joel Foreman (MSU).   There is the list, and yes I added Mike Adams to the list even though he will be serving a 5 game suspension, I left Dan Herron off the Ron Dayne Award watch list because he’s suspended, but Mike Adams is too good to leave off the list, he might be the best LT in the Big Ten, so he’s on the list.  The Joe Thomas Award list will be cut down to 3 half way through the season, and I will announce the winner after the Season before the Bowl games begin.  Tomorrow I will post the Randy Wright Award (yes he’s the best QB in UW History) Watch List for the best QB in the Big Ten!


 MIKE BREWSTER (OSU)2010:  Third-year starter at center … Rimington Trophy finalist … FWAA, Phil Steele  first team All-America … first team all-Big Ten … Outland, Rimington awards preseason watch list … Jim Parker  lineman of week: Marshall, Penn State … third-year letterman




 MIKE ADAMS (OSU)2010: Second-year starter at left tackle … first team all-Big Ten … Jim Parker lineman of  week: Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa … third-year letterman





 JB SHUGARTS (OSU)2010:  The returning starter at right tackle … third-year letterman 






 KEVIN ZEITLER (UW)2010: Consensus honorable mention All-Big Ten … Academic All-Big Ten …  Badger Power  Award (weight room dedication) …Preseason: Named third-team All-Big Ten by Athlon Sports




 DAVID MOLK (MICH)2010:  Earned third varsity letter … Rimington Trophy finalist … All-Big Ten first  team (coaches) and All-Big Ten second team (media) … co-recipient of U-M’s Hugh R. Rader Memorial Award  (top offensive lineman) … Rotary Lombardi Award watch list … Phil Steele’s Midseason All-Big Ten first team …  started all 13 contests at center



 RILEY REIFF (IOWA)2010: Second team all-Big Ten by league coaches and media . . . Hustle Team Award,  Offense.  Started all 13 games at left tackle and has 21 consecutive starts





 JEFF ALLEN (ILL)2010:  Second-team All-Big Ten selection by media and honorable mention by  coaches … Phil Steele’s second-team All-Big Ten … Team captain … Named team’s Outstanding Offensive  Lineman at postseason banquet … Helped pave the way for the top rushing offense in the Big Ten and the 11th  best in the nation (246.1 ypg)




 JOEL FOREMAN (MSU)2010:  Honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media . . .  named to the All-Big Ten second team by and Phil Steele . . . earned third-team All-America honors  by Phil Steele . . . winner of MSU’s Outstanding Underclass Lineman Award for offense . . . Academic All-Big Ten  selection for the third straight year

Zeitler Named to the 2011 Outland Trophy Watch List

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin senior offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler has been named to the preseason watch list for the 2011 Outland Trophy, the Football Writers  Association of America (FWAA)  announced Friday. This year’s  watch list is comprised of 65  players representing each Football  Bowl Subdivision conference, with  the Big Ten’s 13 representatives the  most of any league. Zeitler seeks to  become the Badgers’ third winner of  the Outland Trophy in the last six  seasons, joining 2010 honoree Gabe  Carimi and 2006 winner Joe Thomas. The award is presented annually to the best interior lineman in college football.

Zeitler enters his senior season as a two-year starter at right guard for the Badgers. He appeared in all 13 games last season, including starts in each of the season’s final nine games, and earned consensus All-Big Ten honorable mention. He was also twice named UW’s co-offensive player of the week. His contributions were evident in 2010, aiding a line that allowed the Badgers to pile up record-setting numbers on offense en route to the Big Ten championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. UW’s offense topped the 70-point plateau three times and led the Big Ten with a school-record 41.5 points per game, including an average of 45.2 points in conference play — the second-best mark in Big ten history.

The line paved the way for a running game that tallied 48 rushing touchdowns and fell just four yards short of making UW the first team in FBS history to have three running backs rush for 1,000 yards in the same season. It also provided protection for a passing attack that saw starting quarterback Scott Tolzien set school records and rank among the national leaders in completion percentage (72.9 percent) and passer rating (165.9).

The Outland Trophy winner is chosen from three finalists who are part of the FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects the 25-man team and eventually the three Outland finalists to be named on Nov. 21. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner.

The Outland Trophy, presented annually since 1946, is the third oldest award in major college football. The winner of the 66th Outland Trophy, named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at Penn and Kansas at the turn of the century, will be announced on The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 8 on ESPN.

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