A handful of days removed from one of the biggest decisions in Big Ten history that shut down all fall athletics across the conference, the local media had the chance to hear from two of the Wisconsin Badgers team leaders.
Talking honestly for roughly 35 minutes, senior safety Eric Burrell and senior left tackle Cole Van Lanen discussed the player perspective of everything that has transpired over the course of the past week.
To kick things off we had the opportunity to speak with Van Lanen, followed by an interview with Burrell.
You could hear the frustration from both Cole Van Lanen and Eric Burrell in their voices while speaking with the media.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 14, 2020
In terms of their plans for his future, Van Lanen said that he has plenty of time on his side. He noted that that he plans to use the next two weeks off to help him with figuring out his future, but that there are lots of different ways it could go. He did go on to say that last year he was playing through injury and that he wants to get more film on tape for the NFL, making the idea of a spring season favorable to him.
Burrell went on to say similar things, with there being a desire to have a final season with his teammates. He told Paul Chryst in their first practice this fall “damn it feels good” to be out on the practice field.
However, while he is open to a last hurrah in the spring, he did not seem likely to return for next fall. He noted that he already has an undergraduate degree, will be getting a masters in December, and that he has been on campus for five years already. He has hopes for the NFL, and a spring season of tape could further help him with that goal.
CVL believes that a "spring season could really help me" in terms of getting more tape to show NFL teams what he can do when healthy.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 14, 2020
Another common talking point for both players was their reaction to the announcement.
The seniors each were caught off guard by the choice, after following all the protocols without positive tests, and the new schedule released just days prior. The question of why not just give it a chance or give it more time seemed apparent from both players.
Van Lanen reiterated that he and his teammates were not happy with the actual decision multiple times, but that they need to stay positive and continue working. He went on to say that he actually really likes what he has been hearing in terms of the concept of a spring season that starts in January and is only two months long. Thinks that it makes a lot of sense, and that he thinks it can be done.
Van Lanen continued by saying that everything that has transpired has taken a toll on them, and that it has been stressful. He is grateful that they at least have an answer now, and that they are now working towards a spring season collectively as a team.
Like Van Lanen, Burrell also shared his unhappiness with the decision from the conference, and referenced that it has been very frustrating. For him, being unsure of who actually made the decision, or how the decision came to be was also incredible frustrating for the senior from Maryland in particular. Van Lanen highlighted similar irritation with the unknowns, and that he would like to speak with the school president, who the team has never heard from during his time at UW.
However, in the end both players brought up that it is out of their control, and that they need, and their teammate need to move forward. The mantra of “control what you can control” was used by both players in each interview.
Eric Burrell "you have to be positive about it." Both he and Van Lanen brought up that at this point they need to move on and make the best out of the situation.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 14, 2020
On the topic of looking around or transferring, both players shut down the notion. Burrell did say that he thought about it and researched it a bit, but that he loves Madison and doesn’t think it is in the cards.
Van Lanen stated that he couldn’t fathom transferring out, and that he does not think that the decision by the conference will lead to any players transferring out.
Once again, both players are in a different situation than some players on the team as seniors with NFL opportunities, but nonetheless it is welcomed news with concerns of transfers on the minds of a lot of people.
Both CVL and Burrell believed that the #Badgers were poised to have a good season, "everything was going in our direction" according to Burrell.— Matt Belz (@savedbythebelz) August 14, 2020
Both players also believed that the Badgers had looked really good in summer workouts and in the small number of practices that they got in before the shutdown.
Hopefully, like both players brought up, there is a spring season and each player can help lead the Badgers prior embarking on their NFL futures.
Each player was exceptionally thorough and thoughtful in their responses, but they did not shy away their emotions or hold back how they felt about how everything went down the past week.