Yoga Master

Looking to prevent the same kind of injury that cost him most of his sophomore season, cornerback Peniel Jean turned to yoga in the offseason to improve his flexibility. What it actually did was improve his overall ability on the football field.

MADISON - It was a little more than a year ago when Peniel Jean was feeling spectacular.

Wisconsin's 2012 fall camp was nearing its conclusion and the Badgers began transitioning into game prep against Northern Iowa. Utilizing his experience of playing all 14 games as a redshirt freshman, Jean played well enough to continue as the team's starting nickel cornerback.

And then he broke his left foot a little over a week before the opener, sidelining Jean for the first six games and basically relegating him to special teams duties.

"It was a bad incident," said Jean.

So when Jean started to put the incident behind him following the season and focus on the two vacant starting cornerback spots, Jean spent a lot of his time on strength training and injury prevention, even going so far as doing yoga to increase his flexibility.

"I wanted to prevent stuff that I couldn't prevent on the football field," said Jean. "It's definitely not manly, but it's very helpful."

Admitting he heard a couple weird cracks and pops the first time he started on the yoga mat, Jean slowly saw improvements with his lower body flexibility and has since seen that carry over to the football field with an injury-free offseason. It's also recruited some fellow teammate to join in the party.

"Marcus Trotter, Michael Trotter and Jeff Lewis all joined," said Jean, who did the exercise three times a week during the summer. "I definitely recommend it."

Jean might see more teammates join him if he carries his fall-camp momentum deep into the season. From yoga to film study to watching last season from the sidelines, Jean never relinquished the starting cornerback spot given to him as the start of spring practices, saying he's playing his best football of his career right now.

"Since last year I have grown a lot as a leader, helping Devin Smith, Marcus Cromartie and Darius Hillary by telling them things they can't see on the field when they are playing," said Jean. "I feel I developed well from there … I feel I have improved a lot and I am not the only one seeing it. From the strength staff, the coaching staff and other players, they've seen a different PJ this year."

Having another upperclassmen leader won't be frowned upon in Wisconsin's secondary. But while only Dezmen Southward has experience starting the opener, Jean is confident in saying that Wisconsin's secondary is ready to surprise some people.

"From spring ball to summer ball to now, we've progressed a lot," said Jean. "Now we're all competing with the young guys. That's the key – develop a two-deep and keep competing throughout the season."

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