All-conference: Thomas reaches goal

Left tackle has been aiming high all season; Calhoun, DeBauche also named first-team All-Big Ten

HONOLULU — Joe Thomas achieved one of his goals Tuesday when he was named consensus first-team All Big Ten.

"It's a step along the way," Thomas said. "It was one of the goals that I wanted to achieve this year, and it feels good to be there but it's not the ending point for me. That's just a small step on where I want to be….

"I wanted to get some mention at the end of the year of All-American… That's one thing I'm hoping for."

Thomas, a 6-foot-8, 303-pound junior left tackle, was an honorable mention selection last season. Tuesday, he was one of three Badgers to earn first-team acclaim — tailback Brian Calhoun and punter Ken DeBauche were also first-team selections by both the media and the coaches.

Offensive line coach Jim Hueber told Thomas of the honor soon before the team boarded its flight for Honolulu Tuesday morning.

"I was happy. For me, it's a nice thing," Thomas said. "But I still want to win games. That's the most important thing for me."

Thomas allowed just two sacks all of last season. He had not allowed a single sack this year until giving up one two weeks ago against Iowa.

"I'm very happy with the way I've played so far, in the run game and the pass game," Thomas said. "I think my pass protection has improved greatly, and so has my run game. But being strong at the point of contact is one thing I think I've improved greatly over from last year."

Calhoun, a 5-10, 203-pound junior, has had one of the most productive seasons in conference history. He has rushed for 1,274 yards and 20 touchdowns and has caught 50 passes for 556 yards and two touchdowns. His 22 touchdowns are a single-season school record.

DeBauche, a 6-2, 219-pound sophomore, is averaging a league-best 44.9 yards per punt. Twenty of his 53 attempts have been pinned inside the 20, with only four touchbacks.

Senior wide receiver Brandon Williams (51 catches, 864 yards, five touchdowns) received second-team all-conference from league coaches and honorable mention from the media.

Free safety Roderick Rogers (49 tackles, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups) was named second-team by the media.

Other Wisconsin representatives on the honorable mention teams included: tight end Jason Pociask (consensus), safety Joe Stellmacher (consensus), defensive tackle Nick Hayden (media), center Donovan Raiola (media) and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy (media).

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