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NFL Draft 2014: Jared Abbrederis prepares for next step

Jared Abbrederis went from a walk-on to Wisconsin's all-time receptions leader. The next step in his unlikely journey is playing on Sundays.

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There wasn't much time for former Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis to reflect on his career as a Badger after the 2014 Capital One Bowl. With a career that started as a walk-on who was known more for his track and field prowess before becoming scout-team quarterback, Abbrederis ultimately became an All-Big Ten wide receiver and tied for Wisconsin's all-time receptions record. Now, the NFL awaits.

Following the end of his collegiate career, Abbrederis flew to San Diego to train at EXOS (formerly known as Athlete's Performance). Besides a weeklong stay in Mobile, Ala., for Senior Bowl practices, he's trained in southern California since early January. In fact, he just returned home to Madison last week for the first time in two months after participating in the NFL Scouting Combine.

"It was a really good experience," Abbrederis said. "I definitely achieved a lot of my goals, so I'm happy the way I trained and the work I put in."

Abbrederis' name is littered through Wisconsin's football record book. Along with tying Brandon Williams with 202 career receptions, Abbrederis is second in UW history in receiving yards (3,140) and touchdown catches (23). Besides playing his way to back-to-back consensus All-Big Ten selections by the media and coaches, he won the Burlsworth Trophy, given to the most outstanding player who began his college career as a walk-on.

His collegiate accolades, along with his performance in Mobile before having to withdraw from the Senior Bowl itself due to a minor hamstring injury, helped his draft stock rise before performing at the Combine.

He arrived in Indianapolis the Wednesday before his official combine workout last Sunday. The next day began the whirlwind of medical work (blood work, x-rays, MRIs and physicals) and informal meetings with NFL teams. That Friday morning began especially early, a little after 3 a.m., to take a drug test, before proceeding with his official weigh-in and more team meetings, which included fruther overview of his medical history with teams' medical staffs.

"It's a tough schedule," Abbrederis said. "You don't get a lot of sleep and you have to be at your best at the end of the week when you're the most tired, but it's definitely a good week."

Saturday was devoted toward more of the mental, psychological analysis teams use to determine a player's draft stock. Though taxing, he didn't mind the mental side of testing.

"You just gotta be yourself, so it doesn't really get to me," Abbrederis said. "I think I have a good understanding of the game of football as well, so that wasn't too bad."

He performed the physical drills last Sunday, running a solid 4.50-second 40-yard dash, along with performing well among wide receivers in the three-cone drill and the 20- and 60-yard shuttle run, finishing in the top third of those who performed those respective drills. Though he only bench-pressed 225 pounds four times and some teams have reservations about his history with head injuries, Abbrederis still remains in high regard among many personnel and media. ranks him as the 14th-best wide receiver and the 98th best player available. Rob Rang noted Abbrederis is unfairly criticized as a technician rather than a "top-notch athlete." Mock draft boards have him going somewhere between the late second round to the fourth round.

With Wisconsin's pro day coming up on Wednesday, the Wautoma, Wis., native could improve his status even more, yet he knows there will be uncertainty as to when his name will be called in May, especially if there is a run on NFL teams drafting wide receivers early in the draft. He isn't worried about his draft position. Regardless of what number or round he is drafted, he knows he has to prove himself to make a roster and play on Sundays.

"It doesn't matter if you're drafted, undrafted, first round, last round; whatever it might be, you gotta perform once you get there, and that's how you'll make a team," Abbrederis said.

"No matter how I get there, I know I'm just gonna work hard and do my best to help my team out."