From Scare to Beware

There was a time last December where Peter Konz thought his football career might be over. It's been weeks since Konz last was in the trenches and although he didn't participate in spring drills, the Neenah, Wisconsin native feels he has grown as a football player and is prepared to earn his starting job back.

MADISON - If there was a straw poll on who has the best laugh or sense of humor on the Wisconsin football team, Peter Konz would garner more than a couple of a votes.

Always laughing and joking with his good nature sense of humor, Konz shook off some minor chest pain when he was sitting in his Hawaiian hotel last December, chalking it up to the grind of a long season. He had no clue that he was experiencing blood clots at such a young age.

Five months have past since his scare on the islands and Konz is still on medication to thin his blood. Spending the majority of the spring in his red Wisconsin jersey with no pads on, Konz is still laughing and bringing bright light to a scary situation, thought he conveyed to Badger Nation.

Although he hasn't participated in any contact drills in over four months, Konz feels he has increased his wealth of knowledge enough to be ready to earn his job back when UW starts its summer conditioning program in early June.

Badger Nation: If you can, relive the Hawaii trip. You think you are going for some fun in the sun and win a football game, but when did you start having some chest pains and what happened from there?

Peter Konz: Yeah, we arrived (Wednesday) and I was feeling great. We went though practice right when we arrived and I was doing fine, enjoying the weather and the sun. The next day (Thursday), we did a little sightseeing but Friday when I woke up, I started to feel a little something in my chest. I thought I might have hit my ribs or something. Later that day, it got progressing worse and I decided not to toughen it out and see what the trainers could do for me, figuring it was just something I did in practice. They took me to the hospital to make sure the chest pains I was having wasn't anything serious and it turned out to be blood clots in the lungs.

Badger Nation: What was your reaction when you heard that?

Peter Konz: I … I really had no idea what blood clots could really do. I have never heard of anybody my age really getting them. I guess I just didn't understand what was going on.

Badger Nation: Did they tell you that the clots happened because of the long flight and the change in the altitude? Did you ever get a good answer as to why this happened to you?

Peter Konz: It was a mixture of bruises I gained from the season. Blood clots come from when you get bruises. I already had bruises so when we went on a seven-hour flight, not moving around, my body didn't dissolve them. That's what they said happened. Had I not had all those bruises or gone on that long flight, which normally isn't close to what we do, I would have been OK.

Badger Nation: What is your prognosis now and what are you taking to fix the problem?

Peter Konz:Right now, I am on blood thinners, I am lifting weights, I am running during practice and snapping with the quarterbacks. I am doing everything but I can't have contact because my blood is thin.

Badger Nation: Was that problem the real only down point of your season? It's ironic that you got to play 10 games after an injury and you miss your last two games with an injury.

Peter Konz: The first couple I missed then I come in on the second game. Then I miss the last two, which was a real bummer. It was a big letdown. I was having a good season, not a great one by any means because I was knew to it, but I was progressively getting better. Just to see my season end right there was sad.

Badger Nation: What was the biggest thing you learned from last year being in there? I take it is was a lot different than scout team work?

Peter Konz: Oh yeah. The biggest thing I learned was probably the toughness of the Big Ten schedule. We try to get good looks in practice, but you can never simulate a defensive tackle from Michigan or Ohio State or Iowa. It's a different level.

Badger Nation: How do you keep progressing forward without having the pads on and going through practice everyday? How do you keep yourself mentally sharp?

Peter Konz: I keep watching practice and learning things I have never known before. I do a lot of snapping with the quarterbacks, so I learn a lot from them actually. They will help me know where the wide receivers are setting up so that let's me know what kind of formation a defense would be in. I am learning a little more about the game right now, so that might give me a little more of a mental edge.

Badger Nation: Do you feel that you and Scott Tolzien really developed a good chemistry last season because last year was one of the first years in a long time that there were virtually no fumbled snap exchanges? That's pretty rare for a first-year starter and a freshman center.

Peter Konz:Yeah, it just worked out. I can't tell you why or if it was just the reps that we got, but we just had a feel for what each other wanted. A couple of times it happened during practice and he would tell me if it was me or if it was him so we would be able to fix it. You would be hard pressed to see Tolzien blame anybody other than himself (laughing). I am trying to get it out of him if it was my fault or not, because that's the only way we'll both get better. The communication really helped us out a lot to get that exchange.

Badger Nation: You obviously learned a lot from Scott, but what have you learned from Jon Budmayr in the time you have been around him?

Peter Konz: I have learned how good of a quarterback he can be. He's doing a great job in there. For a small guy, he can throw the ball real hard. We're trying to get that same chemistry together. Unfortunately, Scott is only around one more year. When we are in there, I try to keep the same lines of communication I have with Scott with Jon. Jon can tell me anything whenever because I want to try and fix it to make sure I have good chemistry with the quarterbacks when I am snapping.

Badger Nation: When you get back, you're going to have five capable players (Travis Frederick, John Moffitt, Bill Nagy and Kevin Zeitler) battling for three spots in at the interior line position. Does that make you a little nervous that you aren't out there right now and how anxious does that make you to get back and go through that battle?

Peter Konz: It's going to be a grind. At first I was really anxious because I was going to miss spring ball, not get those reps and be able to put my name out there to say that I can continue at that spot. But then I started to think that if I keep improving in the weight room and do the things I can control, then they are going to have to put me on the field if I am playing my best. I am going to try and give them no reason to keep me off the field. I am just going to keep doing my best and it's not worrisome if you know you are giving it your all.

Still, I don't think you are going to find a guy around here that doesn't like another guy. It's getting close enough that we can tell each other when we are messing up or not going hard, and that's really healthy for us as a team.

Badger Nation: You can't have any contact now, but when are you hopeful and the medical staff hopeful that you will be up to 100 percent and be able to participate?

Peter Konz: The goal was six months, so June I would be able to start practicing again if I check out all right with the doctors, which I expect to. I feel great up to now. It's probably the healthiest I have ever been before, so hopefully it will check out OK.

Badger Nation: How excited do you think that moment is going to be when you get that clean bill of health?

Peter Konz: It will be fun to compete against guys instead of feeling like I am being held back by something I have no control over. Just be able to do everything in my power to get back on the field will be freeing.

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