- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Wisconsin center Peter Konz made official today what had been widely suspected late last week: he's skipping his senior year to enter the NFL draft.
It makes sense, as Konz made several All-America teams this year and is rated as the top junior center by Mel Kiper Jr. While centers don't often get picked in the first round, Konz could go in the second or third. As long as his dislocated ankle is fully healed — and there's no reason to think otherwise after his strong Rose Bowl performance — he should do well at the Combine and the workout circuit.
Konz penned a letter to Badgers fans thanking them for their support. Here it is, and it's a good read from one of the best interview subjects in the Big Ten. Konz had to say about his decision in the school's official release:
“As you've probably heard, I have decided to forgo my senior season and enter the NFL draft. Because of the support I have received, the degree I am so proud to leave with, the football legacy I helped leave behind, and more reasons than I could even remember, I would simply like to say thank you. Every last person has made my experience at Wisconsin far beyond what I could have imagined and without you I could never be where I am today.”
And what head coach Bret Bielema said about Konz:
“I knew when we received the information back from the NFL that Pete would have a tough decision ahead of him. He has been one of the most enjoyable players I have had the pleasure to coach. I know being a Badger meant the world to him and his family. I want to thank him not only for all his hard work and effort on the field but for also representing our program and the University of Wisconsin in a first-class manner throughout his career.
“I also want to thank his mother, Margaret, who has been a big part of our program and has done outstanding work with all our parents. She has been an absolute pleasure to get to know and I know she will miss watching Pete in a Badger uniform.
“I wish nothing but the best for Pete in his family moving forward. He has the opportunity to join a long line of Badger offensive linemen who have gone on to have success in the NFL and I expect nothing less from him.”
Replacing a player of Konz's ability won't be easy, but the Badgers have become an offensive line factory. When Konz went down with his ankle injury late in the year, Wisconsin hardly missed a beat as Kevin Frederick did a nice job of filling in. The Badgers must fill the shoes of two All-Americans — guard Kevin Zeitler was a national honoree as well — but that's exactly what we said this time a year ago.
Wisconsin batted .500 in its draft-eligible stars, as running back Montee Ball decided to stay in school. Konz's departure is part of a big transition for the program, which includes the loss of most of Bielema's offensive staff. But if there's any position we're confident the Badgers can re-stock, it's the big guys up front.