Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 3/7/13
MADISON, Wis. All the seniors off last year's Wisconsin football team with a realistic opportunity to make an NFL roster showcased their skills in some fashion Wednesday during the team's annual pro timing day drills. All, that is, except one. Former Badgers linebacker Mike Taylor remained on the sideline in a gray Wisconsin sweat suit, unable to perform after undergoing sports hernia surgery on Jan. 7. The injury and subsequent surgery also forced Taylor to miss the NFL Combine in late February, making his draft status even more of a question mark. Despite the setback, Taylor has tried to remain optimistic about his chances. "It's frustrating, but it is what it is," Taylor said. "There's nothing you can do about it. You can't change anything. The only thing you can do is just move on, move forward and do what's in front of you." Taylor said he was feeling better every week and expected to hold his own pro day at Wisconsin on March 27. Some analysts project him to be a fifth-to-seventh-round selection or go undrafted, and his ability to get healthy again will have a significant influence on his positioning. "It's just getting back used to running," Taylor said. "I don't want to go out there with only two or three weeks of practice or preparation for it. I just want to make sure I'm ready before I do it." During his four-year career at Wisconsin, Taylor started all 47 games in which he played. He registered 378 tackles, including 273 over the past two seasons as an outside linebacker. This season, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the media for a second straight year. Taylor said he first noticed the injury on Oct. 27 during a game against Michigan State but continued to play through it. The pain became so unbearable that he struggled to run late in the Big Ten championship game against Nebraska, and on into the Rose Bowl against Stanford one month later. In those two games, he averaged just 4.0 tackles per contest. He averaged 9.6 tackles over the team's first 12 games. This isn't the first time Taylor has undergone surgery during his football career at Wisconsin. He also has dealt with neck surgery, knee surgery and hip surgery. But he always had the promise of another college season at his disposal to improve. Since the surgery, Taylor said he had gained 15 pounds and now weighed 236 pounds. He said he expected to be able to maintain the weight given that he could focus solely on football as a professional, and that bulk will be a necessary component to his NFL success. "When it's just football, working out, this is what you're doing, living and breathing football, taking care of your body, it's quite easy," Taylor said. "I think I have a lot more I can do. Add a lot of muscle, especially legs. Since the surgery I haven't really done a whole lot of hard working out yet, so I think there's definitely room to add more weight." Despite his difficult offseason, Taylor remains confident he can put up good numbers at his individual pro day. "I know what I can do," Taylor said. "It's just a matter of staying healthy. If you can stay healthy, you can do whatever you want." Boulware responds: Jay Boulware spent just seven weeks as Wisconsin's tight ends coach and special teams coordinator before leaving for the same position at Oklahoma last week. It was a decision met with considerable criticism from Badgers coach Gary Andersen, who told reporters that he blamed himself because he "brought the wrong guy in here." On Wednesday, Boulware finally had an opportunity to respond when he met with Oklahoma media members. Boulware, who was born in Oklahoma City, said he left because of family reasons. He cited a story about his aunt, who was hit by a car in Oklahoma after he had taken the Wisconsin job. His mother called Boulware, upset because she had no ability to get from her hometown in Texas to Oklahoma to check on her sister. Boulware also said his aunt was now paralyzed. "It floored me," Boulware said of the accident. "So when you have opportunities to get back close to home and be near family, I think most men, when you're the patriarch of your family, I think when you have opportunities to be around for your family, you have to choose family every time. I live by a creed: It's my faith, family then football." Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
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