Wisconsin Pro Day: Rachad Wildgoose shines in strong performance
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Wisconsin Pro Day: CB Rachad Wildgoose shines in strong performance

Rachad Wildgoose felt no pressure entering Wednesday. Perhaps "kind of anxious to get a time and get stuff on the board," according to the former Wisconsin cornerback, but not "nervous" or "scared."

Ten former Badgers participated in UW's annual Pro Day event, and Wildgoose certainly took advantage of his opportunity to shine with a strong 4.41-second 40-yard dash, combined with his performances in other drills. When matching up with the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine numbers as seen in Pro Football Reference and CBSSports.com’s respective trackers, he would have placed fifth among cornerbacks from last year's class, just behind current Jacksonville Jaguar C.J. Henderson.

“I was shooting for 4.4-low, 4.3-high, and I hit 4.41," Wildgoose told reporters after the event. "So [I am] satisfied, but I feel like I could have went a little bit faster, but I’m satisfied with my numbers today."

Wisconsin CB Rachad Wildgoose recorded a strong 4.41-second 40-yard dash on Wednesday.
Wisconsin CB Rachad Wildgoose recorded a strong 4.41-second 40-yard dash on Wednesday. (Tom Lynn, Wisconsin Athletics)

The former Wisconsin defensive back also recorded a 7.0-second shuttle, 120” broad jump, 36” vertical and bench-pressed 225 pounds 11 times in front of 30 NFL teams.

“To make that short and sweet. I just think he's a really good football player,” offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen told reporters on Wednesday. “These tests kind of show why he’s a hell of an athlete, hell of a football player, good teammate. Numbers don't lie. It just shows why he's a good football player, and I'm glad he was able to get his numbers he wanted because he deserves it and I know he's worked hard for it, and I’m really excited for him.”

Wildgoose’s ability to add to his resume at Wisconsin was shortened considerably in 2020. He played in only two games last year, missing the road win at Michigan before returning for a divisional matchup against Northwestern.

Against the Wildcats, Wildgoose lost feeling in his ride side after a first-half hit. Initially, he thought he had a stinger and ran off the field. However, he was diagnosed with a broken scapula that would eventually knock him out for the rest of the season.

“Then our trainer, he's like, ‘Goose, move your arm,’ and it was stiff. I couldn't move it at all,” Wildgoose said. “He was trying to get me in a locker room. We had probably like four minutes left on the clock in the second quarter.

“I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m good. I just got to shake it off.’ And then after halftime, he was like, ‘Try to move your arm,’ and it was even more stiff than before. So he cut me out of my jersey and then we went and did an x-ray, and then she told me my [scapula] was broken.

“Instantly I knew, when they told me I was out for the season, I knew that I was gonna declare early.”

With his season-ending injury, Wildgoose said it took about 10 weeks to run without having restrictions. He had only trained for the bench press for about two weeks before Pro Day. Wildgoose admitted that registering a double-digit total in that particular category was "pretty good."

Wildgoose also conceded that even if he would have finished Wisconsin’s abbreviated 2020 campaign, he would have left after his junior year. He mentioned having conversations with defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard during his three years in Madison.

When Wildgoose first came to Madison, he recalled telling Leonhard to not let him "settle" and to "push me to be my greatest."

“After camp he was telling me like, ‘Bro, if you could keep this up, the whole world is going to know what I know," Wildgoose said. "So I talked to my parents about it, and just me also believing in my skills and watching myself develop and feeling ready enough physically and mentally. So when I got coach Leonhard’s support, it was like all in.”

Wildgoose played 25 games in his three seasons at Wisconsin, finishing with 44 tackles, five tackles for loss, 15 passes defended and one interception. He also showed he could play at the outside cornerback and inside slot positions effectively within Leonhard’s scheme.

The South Florida native believes he can bring “confidence, energy and versatility" at the next level.

“I can play corner, nickel, safety,” Wildgoose, who noted he believes he has spoken with 28 NFL teams, said. “They can move me around and get big plays all around the field for me, so that’s just how I feel."

“I feel like in the nickel … you need instincts and you just need to be quick and aggressive,” Wildgoose added. “It’s a lot of stuff that you need that coaches can't coach. Instincts are something you can't coach. So I feel like if you got high instincts, you'll excel in the slot.”

Cole Van Lanen hits some PRs in front of NFL personnel

Offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen during Wisconsin's Pro Day on March 10.
Offensive lineman Cole Van Lanen during Wisconsin's Pro Day on March 10. (Tom Lynn, Wisconsin Athletics)

Wildgoose and Van Lanen were the lone Badgers invited to this year’s modified version of the NFL Scouting Combine, where, according to a NFL Network report in January, players’ drills will only happen at pro days.

The latter returned to Madison after staying in Dallas, Tex., the last two months to work at the Michael Johnson Performance Center. In front of NFL personnel, the lineman ran a 5.01 40-yard dash with a 1.69-second 10-yard split. He also recorded a 30” vertical, a 107” broad jump, and bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times.

“I'm happy with 22 [reps]. I think I could have gotten a little more,” Van Lanen said. “Then vertical, that was a PR for me, 30 [inches]. I was really happy with that.

“I'm happy with my numbers. I know I can do better, but at the same time, I did have PRs as well. So, overall, I thought it was a good day.”

RELATED: OL Cole Van Lanen's expands 'tool box' with Wisconsin Pro Day, NFL ahead

Van Lanen, the former four-star recruit from Green Bay (WI) Bay Port, thinks there was a combination of emotions heading into this event.

"I'm still gonna get a little nervous before football games. I don't care how many games I start, but you just overcome those," Van Lanen said. "And once the opportunity arises, and it's just there in the moment, you don't think about it anymore, and you just got to do what you prepared for, for so long. Like this is your opportunity, this is your one time to let it all go, and you got to cut everything else out and just do your best.

"And that's the same on football Saturday, Sundays. That's the same here. That's the same as a workout in the weight room. That's the same as film work. It's just the heat of the moment, you got to do what you're there to do. I've prepared a long time for this, and I just perform my best."

The former left tackle, who played 45 games for Wisconsin (19 starts), stated that he “would have loved” to have had his family and agents with him on Wednesday, which typically has been seen in the program’s previous pro days prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he went back to the old adage of controlling what one can control.

“Obviously, a little different experience. Cut a few drills short, too. We were only allowed one L-drill, one 5-10-5 [pro agility drill]. Usually it's two, but you just got to make the most of it. I mean, it's nothing different. It's just like at a game. You don't realize the crowd that's there. You're there to perform, you block everything out and perform, and that's kind of what this was, too. Family or agents there or not, you block all that out when you're performing.”

NOTES

Wisconsin's Pro Day results
Wisconsin's Pro Day results (Courtesy of Wisconsin Athletics)

*As mentioned earlier, a UW official confirmed to reporters that 30 NFL teams were in attendance for Pro Day, and then two other organizations requested film from the event.

*As Van Lanen noted, the UW official also confirmed to BadgerBlitz.com that the participants ran the 20-yard shuttle and three-cone drills just once this year. They ran those events twice in previous years.

*As seen in the graphic above, A.J. Taylor also participated in events. Last year, the former Wisconsin wide receiver was recovering from a torn Achilles and did not take part in drills.