Notes: Ike Wants Better Ending

Embarassed by the way the defense played and wanting to go out on top, junior cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu sounds like a man who is going to hold off on the professional ranks for one more season.

TAMPA, Fla. -- If you're looking for positives from Wisconsin's 21-17 loss to Tennessee in the Outback Bowl, try this for a spin: the loss may improve junior cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu's chances of returning next season.

Ikegwuonu, who is a top NFL prospect, had until Jan. 15 to decide whether or not he will return for his senior season. He has already requested paperwork from the NFL College Advisory Committee to gauge where he might be selected in the 2008 draft, and he will receive that on Jan. 3.

"Then I'll sit down with coach Bielema and talk about things, then I'll go talk to my family and then we'll make a decision from there," Ikegwuonu said.

But Ikegwuonu admitted the loss in the Outback Bowl will help convince him to return as this wasn't how we wanted to end his career as a Badger.

"My decision will be made knowing that there is unfinished business," he said.

Ikegwuonu said he won't declare for the draft unless the NFL College Advisory Committee sends him back a high grade, projecting him to be selected in one of the top rounds, but what round is his cut-off mark remains unknown.

Either way, Ikegwuonu is having a tough time deciding.

"I'm nowhere near making a decision, it's a tough decision," he said. "I'm really not ready for stuff like this; I didn't think it would be this tough."

Schofield steps up:There was a surprise in the Badgers' starting line-up -- sophomore O'Brien Schofield, who has only contributed on special teams, started at defensive end.

In weeks leading up to the Outback Bowl, head coach Bret Bielema had said Schofield had been making progress and would match up well against Tennessee. But he didn't mention anything about the Great Lakes, Ill. native starting -- not even to Schofield himself.

"I didn't think I was going to start," Schofield said. "I kind of thought I was just there taking reps because some of the guys were injured so I didn't get my hopes up too much, but I made sure I was going to execute if there was an opportunity and I used that time to get better."

While Schofield ended up splitting time with Kirk DeCremer, he stepped up, providing three tackles and a forced fumble in limited action. Still, he thinks he has a lot of improvement to make.

"I think I did pretty well, but I think I can get better," he said. "I showed moments of my athletic ability and what I'm able to accomplish on the field once I adapt better to my position after some off-season training."

Crooks goes out with a bang: It was senior tight end Andy Crooks' last game, and he made the most of it.

Hampered by nagging injuries season long, Crooks' playing time has been limited this year. After emerging as a reliable receiving and blocking tight end in 2006, Crooks was basically an afterthought in the Badgers' offense in 2007 as he hadn't caught a single pass all season.

That changed in the Outback Bowl. Not only did Crooks catch his first pass of the season, but he made it count by scoring a touchdown -- a four-yard fade in the back of the end zone.

"I just tried to do whatever I could," Crooks said. "I got a little bit more time on special teams and just tried to give it my all in my last game."


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