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Wisconsin football: WR Quintez Cephus declares for 2020 NFL Draft

The Badgers’ top wide receiver is taking his talents to the NFL.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Oregon vs Wisconsin Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Just days after Jonathan Taylor announced his declaration for the 2020 NFL Draft, his teammate Quintez Cephus did just the same.

“I’m excited to put my name in for the draft and to have a chance to play at the highest level,” Cephus said. “I want to thank Coach (Paul) Chryst and Coach (Ted) Gilmore for everything they’ve done for me and for always having my back. They’ve helped me grow as a football player and as a man. The same for my teammates. Their support has meant everything. They’re brothers to me, and to be able to play this season with them and for them has been a blessing.”

Cephus, a fourth year junior from Macon, Ga., led the Badgers in receiving this season with 901 yards on 59 receptions. He also led the team with seven touchdown receptions. In the Rose Bowl against Oregon, Cephus led Wisconsin pass catchers with seven receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown. He had two 100 plus yard games this season - six receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns against Central Michigan in Week 2, and seven catches for 122 yards against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

NCAA Football: Kent State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“Q has meant a lot to this team,” UW head coach Paul Chryst said. “He is incredibly selfless and truly cares about all of his teammates. He has an infectious personality. He loves playing the game of football and you can see that joy when he is on the field. I am excited for his future and wish him all the best as he takes this step.”

Cephus saw time as a true freshman in 2016, with four receptions for 94 yards, including a huge 57 yard reception that helped defeat the Iowa Hawkeyes in Iowa City. In 2017, Cephus led the Badgers’ in receiving with 30 catches for 501 yards and six touchdowns in 10 games, as the lead target for Alex Hornibrook. Cephus suffered an injury in a game at Indiana, which prematurely ended his sophomore season.

Cephus missed the 2018 season due to a highly publicized off-field issue. He was charged with sexual assault, kicked off the team and kicked out of school but later found not guilty on all charges and reinstated to both the university and football team.

With Cephus declaring early, along with the graduation of A.J. Taylor, the Badgers wide receiving corps will have some opportunity for playing time. Kendric Prior and Danny Davis III both return for their senior seasons, but behind them will open spots for those such as Aron Cruickshank, Adam Krumholz, Jack Dunn, A.J. Abbott, Taj Mustapha, Cade Green, Emmet Perry and others.

(Post updated with some quotes from a UW press release on Wednesday morning, 1/8/20)