Bernstein working his way back

Former University of Wisconsin fullback has recovered from injury that cut short his senior season

MADISON—Heading into the 2005 college football season, University of Wisconsin senior Matt Bernstein was generally considered the nation's best fullback. He was only able to play in five games last fall, however, before an injury robbed him of his final collegiate campaign.

Wednesday, following his participation in Wisconsin's pro timing day at the McClain Center, Bernstein said the injury that had ended his college career was osteitis pubis, which is a relatively rare injury that can be caused in sports through overwork. Osteitis pubis is an inflammation of the muscles at or near the pubic symphysis, which is the point at which the right and left pubic bones meet.

As one might imagine, Bernstein said the injury caused considerable pain and discomfort, spreading out to his hips. After first suffering the injury in late September, Bernstein was not able to run full go until Jan. 2, as the Badgers were warming up for their Capital One Bowl matchup with Auburn.

"It hurt a lot during the season but it's OK now," Bernstein said. "Hopefully it doesn't hurt ever again. I'm tired of it."

On Jan. 8, Bernstein flew to California to work with a personal trainer named Chuck Williams, who also works with former Badgers' safety Joey Boese, now a member of the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League.

While in California, Bernstein slimmed down from about 275 pounds to the 259 he weighed in at Wednesday.

"I haven't seen the 50s in a long time," Bernstein said. "A lot of pizzas ago."

Bernstein said that in California he did a better job watching what he eats and he endured the grueling workouts Williams put him through. For instance?

"We had to run up this hill, it was like 300 yards," Bernstein said. "I only could make it up there one-and-a-half times and I threw up four times up there. It was pretty gross. It was fun, though."

After waiting months for his injury to heal—recovery from osteitis pubis requires rest above all else—Bernstein was able to take part in the recent NFL Scouting Combine, where NFL teams poked and prodded him to check out his health.

"After awhile, it started hurting," Bernstein said. "I mean, how many people can push their finger down there and grind? It hurts if you push on anything. But I felt great today. I thought I was moving pretty well."

Bernstein ran about a 4.8-second 40-yard dash Wednesday, a 4.34 20-yard shuttle and a 7.27 3-cone drill. He also posted 25 reps in the bench press at 225 pounds, tied for the best mark among Wednesday's participants.

"I felt great today, I didn't feel like (the injury) was really bothering me," Bernstein said. "At the combine there was more pressure. So I guess it was easier to come out here and just be with all your friends, everyone supports you. It was real easy to come out here and (perform)."

Bernstein said he did not receive any on-the-spot feedback from the assortment of NFL representatives on hand Wednesday.

"I kind of like it that way," Bernstein said. "I'm not nervous really about it, I'm just laid back."

A sure-fire selection before the injury, Bernstein is assuming an easy-going attitude toward April draft.

"If I played all year last year, it obviously would have helped a lot more but who knows, I probably dropped a few rounds from it but it's not really messing with me," Bernstein said.

Bernstein could go in the late rounds or end up as an undrafted free agent.

"I'll play anywhere," he said.

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