MADISON - From an injury standpoint things haven't changed too much since the Big Ten championship game for the Wisconsin Badgers. Peter Konz, a junior center and member of several All-American teams, missed that game with a severely sprained ankle, an injury he suffered during UW's win over rival Minnesota.
As the Rose Bowl against Oregon continues to near, it seems as though Konz is making progress enough to make playing a legitimate option.
"Hopefully he will be able to start returning to practice next week," UW head coach Bret Bielema said. "We won't use him yet this weekend."
With an almost certain NFL future in front of him, let alone a very important Rose Bowl season finale upcoming, Bielema and company are making sure to assert the proper means in order to fully realize his health down the road.
"We're getting a second opinion out there for him," Bielema said. "He's got a lot out there. Not only for the next couple of weeks but for a future decision as well."
Only Nick Toon, a veteran wide receiver for Bielema's squad, seemed to suffer an injury of any significance during the Big Ten championship game. He nicked his shoulder up during a fade route early in the fourth quarter of that win over Michigan State.
Toon was available to reporters Wednesday night. He said he would be good to go for the upcoming Rose Bowl.
"It's fine," Toon said. "I landed on it funny and just kind of tweaked it."
The Russell Wilson project, if one could call the totality of his experience and impact as such, has led several talented players to inquire about the Wisconsin program. Bielema has said in the past that up to 10 players have sent transfer notices to the Badgers, a number that is a bit out of the norm for Bielema's team.
But knowing the success Wilson has had on the program, especially as a veteran and established player, the process is something UW might have a vested interest in moving forward.
"Anytime you're a program that has success you're going to naturally get that," Bielema said. "You get them in two fold."
Bielema went on to say that players his program has previously recruited tend to express interest (i.e. Brock DeCicco, a tight end prospect who previously played at Pitt) after realizing their first destination might not have been the best fit.
Secondly, players that have seen Wilson's success play out, along with all the hype he received and attention he deservedly garnered, tend to become curious about the potential for that to happen with them.
"I'd be lying to you if I told you people haven't been inquiring about that same type of scenario," Bielema said. "Not just at quarterback, but at other positions as well."
Budmayr suffers a setback:
When Jon Budmayr thought about the 2011 season he had to have thought it would mark his first realistic opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback position. He finished spring camp as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, and even though he had a topsy-turvy spring game, he was widely expected to be the top quarterback entering fall camp.
Then Wilson came along.
And then, and even more difficult to grapple with, Budmayr suffered a severe nerve injury to his throwing elbow. Having had surgery intended to heal the issue, Budmayr was apparently making progress in his recovery.
"He was going at a level where they were kind of pitch-counting his throws during the course of the day," Bielema said. "Everything was going good until about Sunday. It took a turn for the worse."
Budmayr will return to the doctor's office Thursday to see what the issue is this time. Bielema did acknowledge that the injury did have something to do with a separate nerve from the one that was previously surgically repaired.
"I don't know if we can use him during bowl prep," Bielema said. "It's just such a difficult year for Jon."
Phillips making progress:
Junior quarterback Curt Phillips suffered his third ACL injury in a span of approximately 13 months during spring camp a handful of months ago. Always tabbed a fast healer, it seems as though Phillips has once again lived up to that moniker.
"He's made positive strides," Bielema said. "He's a little bit ahead of schedule so that's a positive."
Chryst isn't the only one:
Though offensive coordinator Paul Chryst seems to be Bielema's more sought after assistant, strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert also seems to be getting attention.
Pursued enough a season ago to get a hefty raise - - Ben Herbert is now the Big Ten's second highest paid strength coach - - it seems as though UW's highly respected coach is once again being courted, or at least evaluated, by some outside programs.
Remember, a SEC school was heavily pursuing Herbert last season prior to getting his raise.
"Ben is a guy that is from this program," Bielema said. "It's more than being a job here. It's a part of who he is and what he is. With all my coaches, the last three weeks not only have I been battling some recruiting wars, but I've also been battling coaching wars.
"It's something I've grown to expect and I know it's coming. To me it's a compliment to our program."
-Bielema mentioned that Paul Chryst was asked to interview for a vacant head coaching job prior to UW's Big Ten title game against Michigan State. According to Bielema, Chryst said he wouldn't do it until after that game.
-Nick Toon, Russell Wilson and Kevin Zeitler have all been invited to play in the annual Senior Bowl. Getting that type of invitation essentially guarantees a trip to the scouting Combine.
-Montee Ball and Peter Konz have each filed paperwork with the NFL's draft advisory board, as expected. Ball has previously state that he would leave UW is he received a first or second round grade.
Bielema on underclassmen and sports agents:
"Bottom line, if you sign with an agent the one thing they're doing from the day you sign with them is they're trying to take your money. You have to make kids realize that you're not working for an agent, but that they're working for you. That's the hardest obstacle to overcome because a lot of agents out there are going to say you're going to be a first rounder when in reality the NFL says you're going to be a third rounder. They want to get you and they want to get making your money.
"That's the hard thing to make sure they know."