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Henry, Butrym kick off 'Path to the Draft'

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Captains_PennState_2011 (4).jpgOne year after having five players taken in the 2011 NFL Draft, including two in the first round, a number of former Badgers are embarking on a three-month job interview that will culminate in late April. The 2012 draft will be held April 26-28 and, for a number of familiar names to UW fans, the "Path to the Draft" has already started.

Some of the seniors from the 2011 Wisconsin squad that have NFL scouts talking are QB Russell Wilson, OL Kevin Zeitler, WR Nick Toon, FB Bradie Ewing and FS Aaron Henry. With junior center Peter Konz forgoing his senior season to put his name into the draft, there's a good chance that as many as seven or eight Badgers will hear their name called in late April.

As the former UW players train for the draft, they are spread all over the country, in Florida, Arizona, California and even Milwaukee and Madison. Over the course of the next three weeks, we will try to catch up with as many of them as possible to keep tabs on their progress.

There are a number of important dates between now and late April. Some of them are below:

East-West Shrine Game (Orlando, Fla.)
Jan. 21    3 p.m.    East-West Shrine Game    NFL Network

NFLPA Collegiate All-Star (Carson, Calif.)
Jan. 21    5 p.m.    NFLPA Collegiate All-Star    NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus)

Senior Bowl (Mobile, Ala.)
Jan. 23    3 p.m.         Senior Bowl Practice            NFL Network
               9:30 p.m.    Senior Bowl Recap: Day 1    NFL Network
Jan. 24    10 a.m.       Senior Bowl Practice: North  NFL Network
               9:30 p.m.    Senior Bowl Recap: Day 2    NFL Network
Jan. 25    10 a.m.       Senior Bowl Practice: North  NFL Network
               9:30 p.m.    Senior Bowl Recap: Day 3    NFL Network
Jan. 26    10 a.m.       Senior Bowl Practice: North  NFL Network
               9:30 p.m.    Senior Bowl Recap: Day 4    NFL Network
Jan. 28    3 p.m.         Senior Bowl                         NFL Network

NFL Scouting Combine (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Feb. 22-28    NFL Network

NFL Draft (New York City)
April 26-28    NFL Network and ESPN

This weekend, senior defensive captains Henry and DT Patrick Butrym have the chance to show off for scouts. Henry will be playing in the East-West Shrine Game while Butrym takes part in the NFLPA Collegiate All-Star Game.

Those two games are a prelude to the Senior Bowl. A school-record six Badgers will play in that game and take part in a week's worth of practices in front of NFL scouts. The UW players include Ewing, P Brad Nortman, Toon, Wilson, LS Kyle Wojta and Zeitler.

The "main event" of the NFL draft prep is the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 22-28 in Indianapolis. The NFL released its initial invite list, which does not include underclassmen and is not a final list. Among the Badgers heading to Indy are CB Antonio Fenelus, Nortman, OL Josh Oglesby, Toon and Wilson. More UW players, including Konz, should be added to the invite list later.

If nothing else, this should be an interesting offseason for the Wisconsin seniors. And for Badger fans, if you don't get NFL Network, you should probably find a way to watch it because UW should have a strong presence there for the next couple of months.

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