Badgers football: Wisconsin inside linebacker T.J. Edwards to return for senior season

January 3, 2018 GMT

University of Wisconsin inside linebacker T.J. Edwards announced via Twitter on Tuesday that he’ll return to the Badgers for his senior season.

Edwards, a junior, had considered the possibility of leaving UW a year early to enter the NFL Draft.

“I couldn’t be more excited for my senior season at Wisconsin!” Edwards tweeted. “This program means the world to me and I can’t wait to get back to work to finish what we started.”

Edwards earned All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, Sporting News and the Walter Camp Foundation, including a first-team honor from the AP.

The three-year starter recorded 81 tackles, 11 for loss, two sacks, four interceptions and one touchdown this season.

Edwards said last week that he received a “come-back-to-school grade” from the NFL Draft Advisory Board, which evaluates players as first round, second round or return to school.

“I definitely would have to (get) some good feedback,” Edwards said Dec. 19, before receiving the advisory board’s grade. “Nothing too average or I’d probably be leaning to come back. ... I think the biggest thing is kind of just my gut feeling — looking back at my time here and feeling what I’ve done and what I still need to do.”

Edwards appeared conflicted about his decision last week but said that he hadn’t expected to receive a first- or second-round grade from the advisory board.

He said many are questioning if he has the speed to succeed at the next level. While that may be difficult to dramatically improve with one more year at UW, another All-American-type season could boost his draft stock.

Edwards said he spoke with former Badgers outside linebacker T.J. Watt about the decision. Watt skipped his senior season to enter the 2017 NFL Draft and went on to be selected late in the first round.

Edwards’ return means UW will need to replace seven starters defensively instead of eight. With Ryan Connelly and Chris Orr also returning, the Badgers will be stacked at inside linebacker once again.

Of the four UW players who sought advice on whether to turn pro early, one has declared and two have announced they’ll return.

Cornerback Nick Nelson, who received a second-round grade from the advisory board, said Saturday that he plans to enter the NFL Draft, while right guard Beau Benzschawel joined Edwards in returning for one more season.

Left tackle Michael Deiter, who projects as an interior lineman at the next level, has yet to make a decision. He told reporters Saturday that he received a return-to-school grade from the advisory board.

The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is Jan. 15.