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Offensive lineman Jon Dietzen rejoins Badgers football team
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UW FOOTBALL

Offensive lineman Jon Dietzen rejoins Badgers football team

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When he believed he was retiring from football, Jon Dietzen was appreciative of his time in the University of Wisconsin’s program.

“This was not an easy decision, as I have enjoyed every second of my football career, especially those as a Wisconsin Badger,” Dietzen tweeted Feb. 11, 2019.

“... It was an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of the Wisconsin football team and to be able to call myself a Wisconsin offensive lineman. I will always cherish my time at this university. The bonds and relationships I’ve formed over the last four years are irreplaceable and I am forever grateful for everyone who’s been a part of this experience.”

Jon Dietzen mug

Dietzen

That experience will now continue — Dietzen is listed on the Badgers’ fall roster, which was released Wednesday. The Black Creek product stepped away from football due to injuries he described as “ankles, hips and other things,” after splitting playing time in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Players weren’t made available to the media Wednesday, but took part in drills and skill work at Camp Randall Stadium. UW coach Paul Chryst said Dietzen felt healthier last fall and has spent the past year-plus training. When COVID-19 shut down UW’s campus in the spring and summer, Dietzen would check in with trainers about his progress.

“This has been kind of a year in the works,” Chryst said. “The more time we’ve had, ‘Dietz’ is probably the one that’s probably benefitted from it in many ways. He’s trained, but he hasn’t played for a while; it was the Pinstripe Bowl (in Dec. 2018 that) was his last game.”

This will be Dietzen’s sixth and final year of eligibility.

Dietzen has played in 35 games for the Badgers, and made 32 starts — 20 at left guard and 12 at tackle. Dietzen split time at left tackle in 2018 with Cole Van Lanen, who assumed the starting role last season. Dietzen gives an experienced option at both positions for the Badgers, who may have new starters at every position besides Van Lanen at left tackle.

“It’s been fun to see him, truly, healthy as he’s ever been, quite honestly. ‘Dietz,’ he’s a talented football player. I think the question will be … the thing he hasn’t done is played football. So maybe not just that (first) day, what’s it feel like the day after that? Or when you start stacking two or three together?” Chryst said.

“How does he feel not necessarily on the first practice, but on the second of a back-to-back, or two or three weeks into it? But just through all the training he was doing, he’s able to bend probably better than he’s been before.”

Chryst said he’s excited for Dietzen to return because he knows how difficult the decision to step away was for Dietzen.

“Football meant a ton to him, the team meant a lot to him. … So to see him healthy, that’s been really fun to see,” Chryst said.

Chryst was less forthcoming about the health concerns surrounding safety Reggie Pearson. The redshirt sophomore was listed on the team’s spring roster, but not the fall list, with Chryst saying he wasn’t cleared to play by doctors.

“In the offseason, found something that was a concern. For this year, he wasn’t cleared to play. That’s why he’s not on the roster right now, because he wouldn’t be cleared,” Chryst said.

Reggie Pearson mug

Pearson

Pearson — who started 12 games last season and was fourth on the team with 60 tackles — is still in school at UW, but “something would have to change for him to be cleared” to play football again, Chryst said.

Pearson’s father, Reggie, tweeted on Wednesday: “For the Record, (Reggie Pearson) is fine and feeling better than ever and will return to the field in due time. Thank you for all the concerns and love. God Over Everything.”

The roster release also showed two players who switched positions. Sophomore Jaylan Franklin moved to tight end from outside linebacker, and sophomore Brady Schipper moved to safety from running back.

Franklin was originally recruited as a tight end and his body size (6-foot-4, 228 pounds) gives the tight end group a different dimension, Chryst said.

“His skill set and his body type lends (itself) to playing a number of positions, and he’s got a chance to impact the tight end position,” Chryst said. “Be a little bit different for us, kind of complement that group.”

On-field issues facing each Big Ten team

This story will be updated after a noon news conference with UW coach Paul Chryst.

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