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Wisconsin LB Jack Cichy announces he will declare for NFL Draft

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In a touching post on The Players’ Tribune, the Wisconsin native thanked Badger fans and explained his decision at length.

LSU v Wisconsin Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wisconsin Badgers senior inside linebacker and former walk-on Jack Cichy announced Tuesday morning that he will decline to apply for a medical redshirt for the 2017 season and intends to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, according to his article on The Players’ Tribune, “A Badger for Life.”

The whole article is well worth a read, but here are some highlights.

Cichy discussed the ACL injury he suffered before the start of the 2017 season and how emotionally and physically brutal it was for him.

I wasn’t screaming because of the pain, though — it didn’t even really hurt all that bad. The scream was more out of … fear.

It was a sound that came from deep inside of me, and it was based on a realization that something really bad had just happened.

And I wasn’t ready for another bad thing to happen to me on a football field.

He then discussed what it means to be a Badger as a native of Somerset, Wis., and how he was able to fulfill his dream “of one day suiting up in that red home uniform.”

When I got the opportunity to walk on at Madison after high school, it was an absolute no-brainer. Even if it only meant that I’d max out as a special teams guy, I was all in. I could’ve gone to a smaller school and gotten more playing time early on, but I didn’t want to be left wondering what I could’ve done had I played college football at the highest level, in the Big Ten, for the team I had loved ever since I was a kid.

All I wanted was a shot.

Wisconsin gave me that … and so much more.

Then, he dived into how his Badger football “family” helped him stay positive in the aftermath of another crushing, season-ending injury.

And, well, that could’ve been the end of this story. Heck, it could’ve even been the end of my story as a competitive athlete altogether.

Like, you know….

The End. No more football for Jack. That’s all folks.

Here’s the thing, though.

Something incredible happened to me the very next day.

When I woke up that next morning after getting the news about my knee, this Wisconsin team, my team, my family … picked me up.

Everyone, collectively and as individuals, showed me, once again, what it means to be a Badger.

When I got to the facility, Coach Chryst had already told the team. And I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I think I got a hug from literally every single person affiliated with our program. Players, coaches, trainers, G.A.’s, support staff, just … everyone.

It’s the type of thing that doesn’t just happen at any old place. Wisconsin is special.

That’s love.

He also discussed how he knew something special was brewing for this Badger team in preseason practices, and how he was able to watch it play out on the sidelines.

To go undefeated in the Big Ten, a lot of things need to come together just right. And for us it all started in the summer. The level of competition on the field and in the weight room was unlike anything I’d ever seen.

I know it’s easy to say in hindsight that you knew there was something special brewing, but … what can I say?

I did.

I saw it. For real. Early in camp. That fire to accomplish big things.

What most stood out for me was that it seemed like every guy on our team felt like he had something to prove. Nobody was coasting. Everyone, every day, was practicing like he was about to lose his spot — veteran offensive lineman, entrenched starters, all-conference-level guys, everyone.

From there, things just snowballed. It all started with the energy our home crowd showed during that big victory on opening night at Camp Randall. Then came the huge win over Northwestern, and grinding it out over Purdue. Again and again, we could see how all our hard work was paying off. By the time we beat Michigan, and held that team to just over 50 yards rushing for the entire game, we all kind of understood that something unique was happening.

Cichy concluded his marks with a message of thanks to the university, the football team, and the people of the state of Wisconsin, as well as announcing that he does intend to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, comparing the leap of faith he is taking presently to the one he took when he entered the Wisconsin football program as a walk-on prior to the 2013 season.

Cichy will leave Wisconsin having played in 24 games (11 starts) and recorded 120 tackles (15 for loss), 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and six pass break-ups. He was the 2015 Holiday Bowl Defensive MVP; and in 2016, a Butkus Award semifinalist, Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist, and an All-Big Ten honorable mention.

He entered the 2017 on the preseason Bednarik Award watch list, Nagurski Trophy watch list, and Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list.

I’ve put a lot of words from the article here, but they’re still just a pretty brief summary and don’t do it its true justice. It’s a great article from a great Badger, and I absolutely encourage everyone reading this to go over to The Players’ Tribune ASAP and read the full article.