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January 10, 2012MADISON - With the grace and swagger only Peter Konz possesses, the fourth-year junior penned a letter to the Badger faithful, officially announcing his intentions to forego his senior season in Madison for the greener pastures of the NFL.
"Many things went through my mind recently while making this decision," Konz wrote in the letter. "This was a long and difficult process to be sure."
As a junior, Konz was named first-team All-American and a finalist for the Rimington Award, given annually to the nation's best center. He started 31 games at the position during the course of the past three seasons for UW.
Only blood clots late in the 2009 season and ankle issues, including a dislocated right ankle against Minnesota late this past season, kept the all-everything out of games during his tenure in Madison.
He'll leave the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Communication Arts: Radio, Television and Film this spring.
"With my mom and fianc?eing the Wisconsin teachers they are," Konz explained. "They first made it very clear that I had to graduate before any kind of talk of professional football could ever arise because I was setting an example to all the kids who want to play football one day."
With hopes of setting up a realistic opportunity to graduate during his four seasons in Cardinal and White, Konz undertook an 18-credit course load during the fall semester. The minimum to be considered a full-time student is 12 credits.
"I ended up with a 3.4 GPA for the semester (with a 3.2 overall)," Konz said. "With success in both school and athletics, I felt more confident that the NFL was the right decision."
Konz's career at center started when Travis Frederick, currently a redshirt sophomore, suffered an ankle injury early in the 2009 season. From there, Konz took over the center position and never looked back.
He was a part of two Big Ten championship teams, two Rose Bowl teams and 32 wins during the past three seasons.
"I can feel confident making my way as an adult and as a professional because I have the greatest support from the entire state of Wisconsin," Konz said. "I can't forget that I would have never made it half as far without my Wisconsin blue collar work ethic instilled by a lifetime of living in the Fox Valley.
"I never would have pushed as hard to be in the position I am today had it not been for the fans and supporters of Wisconsin athletics."
Originally from Neenah, a relatively small town neighboring Green Bay, Konz has been hailed as high as a first round pick in several mock drafts. He's been lauded as one of the better, if not the best, center prospect in the entire draft and should be fairly compensated once he winds up as a member of a team during April's draft.
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, who just completed his sixth season at the helm, called Konz one of the "most enjoyable players" he's ever coached.
"I know being a Badger mean the world to him and his family," Bielema said. "I want to thank him not only for all his hard work and effort on the field, but also representing our program and the University of Wisconsin in a first-class manner throughout his career.
"I wish nothing but the best for Pete in his family moving forward. He has the opportunity to join a long line of Badger offensive linemen who have gone on to have success in the NFL and I expect nothing less from him."
With Konz declaring for the NFL draft, UW's offensive line will return just two starters from this season's squad. Ricky Wagner and Frederick will return as regular starters and Ryan Groy will likely fill in either at center or one of the guard positions.
Konz, meanwhile, will continue his training in preparation for pre-draft workouts.
"Because of the support I have received, the degree I am so proud to leave with, the football legacy I helped leave behind and more reasons than I could even remember, I would simply like to say thank you," Konz said. "Every last person has made my experience at Wisconsin far beyond what I could have imagined and without you I could never be where I am today.
"If you're waiting for that occasional clich?hat athletes love to throw in, here it is but only because it remains true to who I am. I will always be a Badger!"