Although the 2010 NFL Draft remains more than two months away, training is nearly a full time job for those hoping to be selected by an NFL team in late April.
Out of a senior class of 18, Wisconsin has four players — Garrett Graham, Jaevery McFadden, Chris Maragos and O’Brien Schofield — who are expected to land with an NFL team as either a draft pick or non-drafted free agent.
Over the next two months, The Badger Herald will sit down once a week with Racine native and former UW free safety Chris Maragos to reflect on his collegiate career and discuss the process of reaching the next level.
Below is part one in an eight-part series.
Badger Herald: What is your favorite place that you’ve played during your career in the Big Ten and elsewhere?
Chris Maragos: Camp Randall Stadium. You can’t beat Camp Randall, but if I had to say an away game, because I’m biased toward Camp Randall, I have to say — you see, I didn’t go to Penn State, so that’s one stadium I haven’t seen — Michigan was just average I thought, Ohio State was pretty cool, that was definitely a cool one. But I’ll tell you this, though, when we went and played Fresno State last year, that was crazy.
Their fans were so nuts, we’re coming out and their fans were like on the cages banging it and stuff, ripping over the security guards and barking at us. It was intense; that’s probably the rowdiest I’ve ever seen.
BH: Are there any games from your career that you look at and know you’ll never forget?
CM: There’s a lot that I’ll never forget. The Fresno State game this year and the Northern Illinois game, those are always going to be fond memories and really dear to me. And the Michigan game just because it was senior day, and my family was there, and it was the last game at Camp Randall, so that’ll be a lasting memory.
BH: Looking back on the season, do you feel like you made the most of your senior season at the University of Wisconsin? Is there anything else you wish you would’ve done?
CM: I think I did. But if I could come back for another 10 years here and play for the Badgers, I would. I wouldn’t even want to go on and try to play in the NFL if that were the case. I’d love to just stay with this program, stay with the university, be around this great place and you know, just continue to play football. But that’s not the case.
I think with my limited time here at Wisconsin, only being able to play two years at defensive back, I really feel that I’ve had a full five years just because I really feel that in that short amount of time I really maximized and got the most out of my playing experience. And you know, I can take those memories and life lessons with me and take it further.
BH: Which was better, the overtime interception against Fresno State or the fake field goal touchdown run at Ohio State?
CM: Those were both fun, but I have to say the interception, because it was more like a game-clinching type thing. But I’ll tell you what, that touchdown at Ohio State was a big time rush. It was pretty cool because it all just worked out perfectly for us to run that play.
That week, we were only going to run that fake from the right hash, and it just so happened that on third down we didn’t get it and we were on the right hash and we were from the 9-yard line, so it was like the perfect distance for us to go for it. The only problem was that we could only run it against one of the looks that Ohio State gave us and they only came out in that look like one out of every three field goal block attempts.
We just had to get the right look for the play, and we got the look that we wanted. So, I gave the green call, peeled around the edge, Garrett made a nice block and I just took it in. It was fun.
BH: More importantly, though, did you ever go back and give Scott Tolzien the high five he was looking for?
CM: You know, the funny thing about that is that was the joke in the locker room for at least two weeks. We’d be out on the practice field and be like, ‘Great throw, Scott,’ you know, like real sarcastic and slapping his hand and stuff. So, that was a big time joke. But it was funny because Jim Rome had it on his TV show and Scott didn’t know about it.
So, everybody’s in the locker room like ‘Hey, man, all right Scott,’ and he’s just like, ‘Why is everybody high-fiving me?’ You know, the coaches are high-fiving him and finally somebody tells him about it and he took it like a champ.
BH: What did you think of the Wisconsin football award ceremony, and in particular, was it better to get an award or give out the captains’ award?
CM: Probably to give one. It’s nice to get recognized for accomplishments, but any time you can it’s always better to give the award to someone else. That’s more gratifying and satisfying than receiving an award for what you’ve done. But overall, the ceremony was great; and it was a lot better having Matt Lepay to keep people from speaking too long.
BH: Along those same lines, what was it like watching Mike Lucas interview your parents?
CM: It’s pretty cool, because you talk to your parents, but you don’t really talk to them on that level a lot. It’s not like I’m ever interviewing them or asking them questions like that. I mean, I know they love me and how they feel about me, but it’s really cool to see the story or the insight from their perspective because all I ever see it from is mine and from a football side of things.
Seeing it from a parent’s side or an outside perspective is really neat to see. I’m just so blessed to have the parents that I have. They’re really phenomenal; and even Serah, my fianc?e, I’m really lucky to have her — she’s definitely the better half, that’s for sure.
BH: With the way the season ended, having more than 50 family members in attendance down in Orlando and winning the bowl game over Miami, what was that like as a way to end your career at UW?
CM: I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my career. The only better way to end it would be to continue it in the NFL and keep playing football. It was a fun year. We really exceeded a lot of people’s expectations; but we didn’t exceed our expectations, because we knew we were going to be good in the off-season at this time last year when we were training.
So, you know, we went out there on Saturdays and we showed what we can do, and it was a lot of fun. One of the greatest experiences of my life.