"As you've probably heard, I have decided to forgo my senior season and enter the NFL draft," Konz said. "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."
A Rimington Trophy finalist this season, Konz started 31 games at center for Wisconsin over the last three years. This year he was named first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches' Association and Pro Football Weekly. He was also a first-team All-Big Ten choice by the league's media.
Konz stepped in at center as a redshirt freshman in 2009 after Travis Frederick was injured in the second game of the season. He went on to start the next nine games and be named a first-team freshman All-American by The Sporting News.
A three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, Konz was named to the ESPN Academic All-District Team in 2010.
Since 1999, UW has had 13 offensive linemen taken in the NFL draft, tied for second-most in the country (only Notre Dame, with 15, has more). Last year, three former Badgers were taken in the draft, tied with Florida for the most of any school. Konz joins senior guard Kevin Zeitler and senior tackle Josh Oglesby as draft-eligible linemen this year.
Statement from Wisconsin Head Coach Bret Bielema:
"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."
Konz's Letter to Badgers Fans
Dear Badger faithful,
Like many interviews I've done or conversations I've had with you over the years I wanted to keep this light, casual, and, what I've always strived for during our discussions, sincere. As you've probably heard, I have decided to forgo my senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Many things went through my mind recently while making the decision whether to stay at Wisconsin (especially with no snow this winter) or to pursue my dreams in the NFL. This was a long and difficult process to be sure.
As with any decision this big, I first discussed it with my family, my fiancé's family (yes I am getting married ... cue typical Konz laughter), and my friends for guidance. They supported me either way, as I know all of our great fans do.
With my mom and fiancé being the Wisconsin teachers they are, they first made it very clear that I had to graduate before any kind of talk of professional football could ever arise because I was setting an example to all the kids who want to play football one day. The answer is yes, I will leave the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a prestigious degree in Communication Arts: Radio, Television, and Film in the spring. Many of you don't know this, but during our Big Ten championship winning and Rose Bowl playing year I took 18 credits, six more than full time, to be able to put myself in position to graduate in the spring. I ended up with a 3.4 GPA for the semester (with a 3.2 overall). With success in both school and athletics, I felt more confident that the NFL was the right decision.
With a degree in reach my family wanted to make sure that I was ready for the NFL. The first thing I wondered was if they were questioning my speed or strength, and did my own mother have NFL inside information that I didn't? That wasn't the case. I soon realized they were making sure I was ready to make this very adult decision. Of course, no one could answer this but me.
As I thought about it, I realized I was ready for hundreds of reasons. The first was the support from my family and fiancé, and the reassurance of the degree that could back my decision. Next was the second-to-none training I received from the coaches, my teammates, the strength coaches, academic service employees, my favorite support staff on the eighth floor, equipment room personnel, training room staff, video services, and everyone who worked with me directly or indirectly during my time with Wisconsin football. I know from what they have taught me about perseverance, hard work, and integrity that I can start my professional career and feel confident in my abilities.
Lastly, and what made my decision the hardest, I can feel confident making my way as an adult and as a professional because I have the greatest support from the entire state of Wisconsin. I can't forget that I would have never made it half as far without my Wisconsin blue collar work ethic instilled by a lifetime of living in the Fox Valley. I never would have pushed as hard to be in the position I am today had it not been for the fans and supporters of Wisconsin athletics. And what I'm most thankful for is that I would have never become half the man I am today without the good moral upbringing that Wisconsinites could brag about but humbly decline to talk about.
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 if you're waiting for that occasional cliché that athletes love to throw in, here it is.... but only because it remains true to who I am. I will always be Badger!
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