Another draft-eligible junior from the University of Wisconsin football team expects to return for one more season with the Badgers.
Offensive lineman Michael Deiter followed inside linebacker T.J. Edwards and right guard Beau Benzschawel by opting against the NFL, leaving UW with 14 returning starters in 2018, including 10 on offense and every offensive lineman.
The Badgers football Twitter account announced Deiter’s return Wednesday, tweeting a photo of all five UW offensive linemen with the text, “Gonna be good to have all five of these guys back next season."
Deiter, who received a return-to-school grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, spent this season out of position. He started every game at left tackle after playing guard or center throughout the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Still, the Curtice, Ohio, native earned consensus first-team All-Big Ten honors as a tackle, while Sporting News selected him as a second-team All-American.
“The Big Ten Awards and then the All-American stuff, it’s definitely comforting to know that I can still do that at a position that I probably wasn’t supposed to play, never thought I would play,” said Deiter, who has started all 41 games in his career. "So it definitely adds a little something to know that you can play a position well that maybe really isn’t your home spot, and then still get recognition to play it well."
Deiter, who projects as an interior lineman at the next level, could potentially play guard or center again for UW in 2018, opening the door for either Patrick Kasl or Cole Van Lanen to start at tackle.
Van Lanen saw action during the Badgers’ final two games as an extra tackle/blocking tight end after Zander Neuville suffered a season-ending injury. Kasl held his own after replacing David Edwards (left leg) at right tackle in the Orange Bowl. Both Kasl and Van Lanen will be redshirt sophomores in 2018.
With the return of Deiter, Benzschawel and T.J. Edwards, junior cornerback Nick Nelson will now be the only early entrant to the NFL Draft from UW.
Nelson said he received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, and his exit means the Badgers must replace three starters in the secondary and seven total on defense.
The return of Deiter and Benzschawel, however, keeps UW’s entire offensive line in tact. Tight end Troy Fumagalli expects to be the only offensive starter the Badgers will need to replace next season.