Jack Cichy moved out of Madison on Monday, announcing via Instagram his departure from a city and campus he called home since 2013.
Cichy’s story reads almost like a Hollywood story, from unknown walk-on to established, playmaking inside linebacker, “Three-Sack-Jack.” Despite a pair of season-ending injuries in consecutive seasons to end his collegiate career, he earned captain status on a Badgers squad that captured an undefeated regular season and a second consecutive New Year’s Six bowl win.
As he told B5Q last week, he had already started to reflect on his journey at Wisconsin and what’s ahead.
“It’s kind of all hitting me now, that now my four-and-a-half, five years here are done, and that’s something that when I left in December I didn’t really think about because I knew I was coming back for a couple months at least,” Cichy said on April 17. “Leaving for the final time, in the near future at least, definitely is bringing back those memories, and it’s giving me some opportunities to reflect, which I’m grateful for.”
New opportunities now sit in front of Cichy, with the 2018 NFL Draft beginning Thursday and the potential to be selected kickstarting a new chapter in his football journey.
There were some bumps in the road during his time in Madison. Last fall, Cichy suffered an ACL tear during Wisconsin’s fall camp, robbing him of his senior season and a chance to showcase his abilities. That injury followed a torn pectoral muscle in the middle of the 2016 season that possibly cost him All-American consideration.
Despite the latest setback, Cichy’s knee should be fully recovered in time for making an impact at the next level.
“It’s been really good. It’s noticeably better by each day, so that’s definitely very encouraging,” Cichy said. “I was able to do some stuff at pro day, but now I’m pretty much able to do just about everything, and it’s just kind of gradually working that back, and each day it’s more comfortable, and it’s a little more pain-free, and it’s really not even that painful. It’s kind of just getting over those mental barriers where I’m kind of mentally cautious about some movements.
“I’d say I’m right around 95 percent right now. By the time mini-camp or OTAs roll around, I’ll be at 100 percent, which I’m extremely excited about.”
Cichy trained for the draft at EXOS in Phoenix, noting he was far enough along in his rehabilitation from the ACL tear that he was able to work out in drills at about “80 percent,” also doing some plyometrics work with the physical therapy team there.
“I wasn’t able to really do the 40-yard dash or some of those things,” Cichy said, “but I think that working through the technique was extremely beneficial for me to be able to kind of reprogram my knee and reteach it some of those movements that you lose after surgery. I wasn’t working some of the stuff 100 percent as far as what I could do, but I was working everything and trying to kind of reprogram my body that way.”
Cichy was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, delivering measurables of 6’2, 238 pounds, while also bench pressing 225 pounds 18 times.
At UW’s pro day, the former walk-on ran a 4.19-second 20-yard shuttle and 6.88-second 3-cone drill, along with recording a 33.5” vertical jump. The 20-yard shuttle performance would have placed him fourth among linebackers at the combine, with the 3-cone drill tying him for fifth with projected first-round draft pick Leighton Vander Esch among those tested at his position.
It is no surprise that Cichy, like some fellow Badgers looking to break into the NFL this year, has been a busy man. He confirmed with B5Q that he visited the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers, the latter a day trip to Lambeau Field and the Packers’ facilities with UW teammates Garret Dooley and Natrell Jamerson.
There have also been workouts with some NFC franchises as well, giving him the ability to flash his physical and mental skills. According to Cichy, those he has spoken with look at him as a “Will” (weak-side) linebacker in both a 3-4 and 4-3 base defense.
“I worked out for obviously everyone that was at pro day,” Cichy said. “Then, I specifically worked out for the Cowboys, Lions, and Falcons. It was good because each one of those, I was further along in my process and I was able to comfortably do more, so I was extremely happy that I was able to kind of showcase my progress on the field, and how I moved around as well as kind of be able to show off a little bit in the classroom to kind of show how my football IQ has developed.”
Now that those workouts and visits are done, his schedule has been pretty open in anticipation of one of the biggest weekends of his life.
“It’s just a lot of unknown,” Cichy said. “The workouts and the visits have died down, so I’m pretty open now, I guess. I wake up, I go work out in the weight room, and I run. It’s just a lot of waiting around after that. I don’t have anything planned after noon on most days. It’s kind of just keeping busy, keeping your mind busy, not necessarily thinking about it. Even when I do think about it, I can’t really fret too much because there’s just so much that I don’t know, so it’s a lot of give and take, I guess.”
Cichy’s plans for the draft remain low-key. On Thursday night, during the first round of the draft, he admitted he will pay attention as some players he trained with may be selected during that time—though he also will be taking in the latest Marvel blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War, as well.
He’ll certainly keep his eyes and ears open the last two days, when he’s expected to be drafted.
“On Friday and Saturday, I’ll definitely watch,” Cichy said. “I told my parents that I just wanted it to be my mom, dad, and my two sisters. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it because, I mean I’ve heard stuff, but ... with my circumstances, there’s really no telling where I’ll go, and I’m at peace with that. I definitely know kind of my situation and why I might be a red flag for some teams, or why some teams might want to take a chance on me.
“So come hopefully late Friday or Saturday morning—I mean, we’ll see what happens—but I think I’m just kind of expecting the unexpected at this point, but I definitely want to do it with my family, and that’s good enough for me, honestly.”