Monday, April 28, 2008

5 Badgers go to the NFL


Former Badger football players Jack Ikegwuonu, Taylor Mehlhaff, Nick Hayden and Paul Hubbard each heard their name called during the annual NFL draft this weekend in New York City and will continue their football careers next fall. Former Badger punter Ken DeBauche went undrafted but signed with the Green Bay Packers later Sunday night.
The Philadelphia Eagles selected cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu, the first Badger to be picked, with the 131st overall pick. The fourth-round selection was somewhat of a surprise after the former first-team Big Ten defender suffered a serious knee injury in January, leaving his professional future in doubt. That injury, along with off-field legal issues and a recent failed drug test, were most of the teams’ greatest concerns regarding the junior cornerback heading into the draft.
In November 2006, Ikegwuonu and his brother were arrested and charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing and felony residential burglary after stealing an Xbox from a DeKalb, Ill., apartment.
According to a report on profootballtalk.com, after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing, Ikegwuonu will go through two years of probation and must perform 50 hours of community service. Residential burglary, the most serious charge, was later dropped.
The former Madison Memorial standout led the Badgers with 16 pass breakups last season and finished the year with 24 tackles.
The sixth round of the draft was the busiest for Wisconsin players. Kicker Taylor Mehlhaff, a first team All-American player, was selected 178th overall by the New Orleans Saints. Mehlhaff was the first place kicker taken in the draft and was the second special teams player selected overall.
Mehlhaff finished his Badger career holding three school records, 145 points after touchdowns, 148 PAT attempts and a .979 extra point percentage. He finished second in school history with 295 points and 50 career field goals.
Three picks after Mehlhaff was selected, the Carolina Panthers selected defensive tackle Nick Hayden with the 15th pick in the sixth round. Last season, Hayden finished the year with All-Big Ten honorable mention status. He completed his senior season by totaling 48 tackles, good for sixth on the team and 4.5 sacks.
The final UW player selected in this year’s draft was wide receiver Paul Hubbard. Hubbard, selected 191st overall by the Cleveland Browns, finished last season with 14 catches for 305 yards. Hubbard missed five games after suffering a knee injury when the Badgers played at UNLV last season. The former track star finished his UW career with 53 receptions and 936 yards. He will join last year’s No. 3 overall pick Joe Thomas as Badger alumni playing for Cleveland.

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