Six Badgers to play in 2012 Senior Bowl
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's football season may have come to an unsatisfying end in the Rose Bowl, but Badgers fans will have one more opportunity to watch some of the team's best players in two weeks at the 2012 Senior Bowl.
The Badgers will have a school-record six players on the North team in this year's game, which takes place in Mobile, Ala. Quarterback Russell Wilson, wide receiver Nick Toon, offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler, fullback Bradie Ewing, punter Brad Nortman and long snapper Kyle Wojta all have officially accepted invitations to the senior showcase event.
The 63rd Senior Bowl is scheduled for 3 p.m. CT on Jan. 28. 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 in a statement. "Every one of these players played a big role in helping Wisconsin to an 11-3 season and a Big Ten championship."
Wisconsin won the inaugural Big Ten title, 42-39, against Michigan State to advance to a second straight Rose Bowl. The Badgers lost, 45-38, against Oregon on Jan. 2 in Pasadena, Calif.
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. More than 800 general managers, head coaches, assistant coaches, scouts and other front-office personnel from all 32 NFL teams are expected to attend the week's festivities.
Wilson, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection this season, set the NCAA single-season record for pass efficiency. He also set school records for passing yards (3,175), touchdown passes (33), completions (225) and yards of total offense (3,513).
"You see some of the great players in other conferences playing, but you don't always get to compete against them," Wilson said in a release, "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."
The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Wilson played just one season at Wisconsin after transferring from North Carolina State. For his career, he threw for 11,720 yards and 109 touchdowns, adding 1,421 yards rushing with 23 touchdowns.
"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 selection by the league's coaches and was an honorable mention pick by the media this season. He caught 64 passes for 926 yards with 10 touchdowns. For his career, he ranks third in Wisconsin history with 2,447 receiving yards and 171 career receptions.
Zeiter was a first-team All-America selection by the American Football Coaches Association and also a first-team All-Big ten pick after starting all 14 games at right guard for the Badgers. He played in 43 games in his career with 36 starts.
Ewing, a two-year starter for Wisconsin at fullback, helped open holes for running back Montee Ball, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Ewing did not record a carry this season but did catch 20 passes for 246 yards.
Nortman was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection this season. He punted 46 times for an average of 42.2 yards per kick. He 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 punting.
Wojta was a three-year starter for the Badgers. He appeared in 39 games as the team's long snapper.
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