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For the third day in a row, a former member of the University of Wisconsin gets to hear his name announced at the NFL Draft.
Joining Travis Frederick (first round) and Montee Ball (second round), offensive lineman Ricky Wagner was selected by the Baltimore Ravens with the final pick of the fifth round (No.168 overall).
Wagner was the 16th offensive tackle taken in the draft and closes a chapter on one of the most successful offensive lines in the school history. With Wagner’s selection, all five starters of UW’s 2010 offensive line made it to the NFL – left tackle Gabe Carimi (first round to Chicago in 2011), left guard John Moffitt (third round to Seattle in 2011), center Peter Konz (second round to Atlanta in 2012) and right guard Kevin Zeitler (first round to Cincinnati in 2012).
After being a consensus honorable mention all-conference selection in 2011 and 2012 seasons, Wagner – who measured 6-6 and 308 pounds at the NFL Combine - was a preseason candidate for the Outland Trophy, a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection and one of six team captains for the Wisconsin this past season.
“Very experienced offensive lineman from a program that pipelines offensive linemen to the NFL,” said ESPN draft expert Todd McShay. “Reliable, can play right tackle or left tackle. I think he’s going to fit best at right tackle, maybe inside guard for some teams.
“Not great in terms of his pass protection and athleticism, but he’s a strong run blocker with awareness and toughness. Close your eyes and think about a Wisconsin lineman, that’s what this guy is.”
Wagner played in 51 games and started 26 games over his final two seasons, and his presence was certainly noticeable. After Wisconsin was held to only 19 rushing yards in a 16-13 overtime loss to Michigan State without Wagner, the Badgers rushed for a school-record 562 yards two weeks later when Wagner returned to the lineup.
On Wisconsin’s first three drives in the first half, Wisconsin ran right behind Wagner and junior left guard Ryan Groy, as the wide gaps for Ball and James White helped UW get at least one run of 18 yards on each of those series.
For good measure, Wisconsin rushed for an eye-popping 539 yards against Nebraska in Indianapolis, the most rushing yards the Cornhuskers have ever allowed in a game (they started playing football in 1890).
A native of West Allis, Wagner joined his homestate program as a walk-on tight end and gained 80 pounds after getting on campus to build himself into an offensive lineman.
Wagner is the 60th Wisconsin player selected in the draft since 2000.