“It’s hard,” Voltz said. “This program has really been a big part of my life going on five years now, something I definitely care about. You earn the respect of your teammates because of how hard you work and the time you put in here, so telling them you will no longer be a part of it any more is difficult for me.”
It was planned that Voltz would be limited throughout the three weeks of camp, considering he had battled a variety of serious injuries throughout his college career. He missed a handful of games in 2012 with ankle injuries and the last five games of 2015 when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament at Illinois.
Although cleared in June for summer conditioning and started camp reporting no setbacks, Voltz was practicing less and less during the sessions opened to the media. Over the last few days, Voltz starting talking with people around the program to figure out whether he wanted to continue playing football.
“There’s not one thing, there’s many things (that played into this decision),” Voltz said, adding he had lost confidence in his body. “The one thing they all had in common was physical tolls. Dealing with my body is something I’ve dealt with pretty much done my whole career with the injuries and fighting through that stuff.”
“I respect and appreciate a ton what he has done for this University,” head coach Paul Chryst added. “And what he will continue to do, just in a different capacity. Dan put everything he had into this and made the decision, along with family, doctors and coaches, that the best thing for him was transition.”
Voltz played in 32 games, with 27 starts all at center, for Wisconsin, meaning the Badgers’ offensive line has suddenly got extremely younger just 11 days before opening the season against No.5 LSU. Of the other four projected starters, center Michael Deiter has the most starting experience, starting all 13 games last season at either center or left guard as a redshirt freshman.
Voltz volunteered to move to left guard for his final season because he was impressed by the play of Deiter when he filled in for him in 2015 and throughout spring practices.
Chryst noted that there’s a “good possibility” the Badgers will go with Micah Kapoi at left guard. Kapoi – a redshirt sophomore - started 10 games last season, including six at left guard, but worked primarily on the second team in the spring with Voltz out in favor of redshirt freshman Jon Dietzen. Dietzen had missed a good portion of camp with a head injury but has since returned to practice.
“Dan’s played a lot of really good football,” Chryst said. “You’re always going to miss that … It’s an opportunity for another person to step in and step up.”
Junior transfer Ryan Ramczyk (left tackle), redshirt sophomore Beau Benzschawel (right guard) and redshirt sophomore Jacob Maxwell (right tackle) are the other projected starters. Including Deiter, the group has started a combined 34 games at various positions, just seven more than Voltz, who plans on being a veteran presence around the group.
“I feel like I have a lot to offer,” he said. “The way football is played nowadays and what defenses are running, the mental side of it is such a big part. Just having that extra set of eyes at practice (and) at games I feel is a huge asset to the group. I’ve started quite a few games, so I feel I have a lot to offer experience wise and feel I can continue to help these guys grow and teach them what I know and have experienced.”
Having already graduated, Voltz is going to work on his master’s degree for the next three semesters while staying close to the team.
“He’ll still bring a lot, just in a different capacity,” Chryst said. “What’s exciting for us is for what Dan wants to do, his future plans have to do with athletics. He can turn the page and go forward. We had a good discussion.”