The official list of 332 college football players invited to the NFL scouting combine was released Thursday, and it only included a few Badgers.
Three seniors from Wisconsin will have the privilege of working out, getting testing, being measured and enduring interviews by professional personnel people later this month in Indianapolis. Offensive tackle Tyler Marz, linebacker Joe Schobert and quarterback Joel Stave got the call, while several of their teammates were surprisingly left out.
Four Big Ten teams had fewer invitees, seven schools had more – including Maryland! – and two had the same number.
Powerful Ohio State led the way with 14, followed by Michigan State with seven and Penn State with five. Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland and Indiana all had four players invited; Minnesota and Illinois had three; Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan had a pair; and Purdue got just one.
Wisconsin finished 2015 with a 10-3 record, including a 6-2 mark in the Big Ten West. The Badgers won their postseason game, beating USC in the Holiday Bowl. They had 21 seniors on the roster, but only three will be at the combine, the premier scouting opportunity for prospective pros.
Marz, an All-Big Ten second team member in 2015 and two-time honorable mention, finished his career at Wisconsin having started 40 games in a row. The 6-foot-7, 325-pounder was the anchor of a Badgers offensive line that produced two of the three best rushing seasons in school history in 2013 and 2014 and only allowed an average of 1.9 sacks per game last year.
Schobert, a former walk-on from Waukesha, was a consensus All-Big Ten first teamer last season who was honorable mention in 2014. He led the Badgers in tackles for loss in 2015, with 19.5, and sacks, with 9.5. He also had five forced fumbles, two recoveries and an interception, earning All-American honors.
Both players were clearly deserving of the invitation.
And then there’s Stave.
The embattled quarterback, who lost his job in 2014 but later won it back, completed 60.8 percent of his passes last season for 2,687 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He ended his career as Wisconsin’s all-time leader in victories by a quarterback. Stave was All-Big Ten honorable mention in 2013 but was not recognized in either of the past two seasons.
The most glaring omission among Badgers eligible to participate at the NFL combine was safety Michael Caputo. A three-year starter who had 65 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles last season, Caputo was All-Big Ten second team in 2014 and 2015. In last month’s East-West Shrine Game, a college all-star game and pro showcase, Caputo had a pair of interceptions and was named Defensive MVP.
Besides Caputo, the notable names absent from the list of invitees included wide receiver Alex Erickson (first-team All-Big Ten, led the Badgers in catches and yards last year), safety Tanner McEvoy (honorable mention All-Big Ten, led the team with six interceptions in 2015) and cornerback Darius Hillary (honorable mention All-Big Ten last year, second-team in 2014).
The scouting combine will take place from Feb. 23-29 and the last four days will be televised by the NFL Network.