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Cichy readying for NFL draft

Somerset native Jack Cichy is shown getting his chance to swing Paul Bunyan's axe after the Badgers defeated the University of Minnesota in November. Photo courtesy of M.P. King, Wisconsin State Journal

Jack Cichy is healing on schedule and is hoping to make a strong impression on National Football League scouts, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26-28.

Cichy is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury to his right knee that cost him his senior season.

The Somerset native and former University of Wisconsin Badgers standout linebacker suffered the injury during a preseason practice in August. He underwent surgery three days later.

Cichy was eligible to apply for an injury waiver to try to play another season. In a story he penned on the website "The Players Tribune" on Dec. 12, Cichy announced his intentions to turn pro.

In an interview last week, Cichy said his recovery from the surgery is right on schedule. After attending the Badgers' Orange Bowl victory on Dec. 30, he traveled to Phoenix to train at the EXOS training facility. He's working out with other prospective NFL draft choices. Among those in his workout group are former Badger tight end Troy Fumagalli. Cichy and Fumagalli are both former walk-ons with the Badgers. Cichy said the EXOS schedule is building him back into conditions, with workouts two or three times a day, along with a strict diet.

Cichy was set to have a momentous 2017 season before the injury. He was on watch lists for some of the top collegiate defensive awards in the country, along with being an all-Big 10 preseason selection.

Cichy rose to national prominence at the 2015 Holiday Bowl, when he sacked USC quarterback Cody Kessler on three straight plays. It was a pivotal stretch in the Badgers' 20-14 victory and it made Cichy a fan favorite all over the country. Fans who hadn't heard of the spirited redshirt player were drew to his charismatic zest for the game.

While he missed the season due to injury, Cichy remains a viable NFL prospect. He was informed last week that he received an invitation to attend the NFL Combine. The Combine begins on Feb. 28. Cichy said he'd been told that he was being viewed as a possible third round draft choice entering the 2017 season, with the chance to improve his draft stock with a strong senior season. While he's not sure how much he'll be able to show of his skills at the Combine, Cichy said he hopes to be at full strength by the Badgers' Pro Day a few weeks later. He's currently five and one-half months out from the surgery and the Pro Day will put him more than seven months out from the surgery.

Though he was injured, Cichy remained part of the Badger team this fall. In essence, he became a volunteer assistant coach.

"I took that upon myself to put the coaching hat on. Mentally it was huge for me ... to keep me sane," Cichy said. He found that he learned from the experience. "It was able to heighten my football IQ."

Cichy said he'd now consider going into coaching once his playing career is complete. He does have other options. He graduated with a degree in economics.

Cichy is working to keep his weight at 235, which he thinks is optimal for the role he hopes to play.

"I'm probably an inside 3-4 linebacker or an outside 4-3 linebacker, depending upon the needs of the team. As far as my playing style, I'm a bit like (Pittsburgh Steeler) Ryan Shazier. I think I can morph my game to whatever the team needs."

Most of Cichy's experience has come in a 3-4 system, but he said he thinks he has learned enough that he can flourish in either system.

The fact that the Badgers have put out so many linebackers who've made an impact in the NFL in recent years also helps Cichy's case. He's looking to follow in the steps of Vince Biegel, T.J. Watt, Joe Schobert, Chris Borland and Jonathan Casillas as recent Badger linebackers who found a home in the NFL.

At the Combine, Pro Day and individual scouting, Cichy will be tested not only on his physical skills, but through a vast number of interviews. He said he's comfortable and ready for this side of the testing, relying on what he's been taught through the years.

"Be yourself. Be Wisconsin. And be everything from my parents and coaches that have instilled into a good ethic in football," Cichy said on his approach to the interviews.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for more than 30 years.

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