Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen (48) runs after a reception as he is tackled by South Carolina linebacker Marcquis Roberts during the Capital One Bowl NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla. The former Menominee Maroon will play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl Jan. 25. in Mobile, Ala..<br>The Associated Press
Wisconsin tight end Jacob Pedersen (48) runs after a reception as he is tackled by South Carolina linebacker Marcquis Roberts during the Capital One Bowl NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla. The former Menominee Maroon will play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl Jan. 25. in Mobile, Ala..
The Associated Press
Jacob Pedersen's football career has carried the former Menominee standout from the youth football turf of Spies Field, to his varsity career at Walton Blesch Field and three trips to the Rose Bowl with the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Wisconsin tight end will add the final stop to his amazing itinerary Jan. 25 when he plays in the Reese's Senior Bowl at Mobile, Ala.
"It's very exciting and I'm very blessed to have the opportunity to play in the most prestigious all-star game," Pedersen said in phone call from Miami, where he is training six days a week for the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.
His selection to the Senior Bowl is just the latest example of how he defied the naysayers who questioned why the Badgers would recruit a "white kid from the U.P."
"I've been told in everything I've done that I wouldn't be able to do it," Pedersen explained. "Hard work and determination and having a dream and working for it through my entire career."
The 2012 All-Big Ten first-team selection and honorable mention pick in his senior year will join fellow Badgers Chris Borland (linebacker), receiver Jared Abbrederis and running back James White in the showcase game for the top seniors in the country.
The Senior Bowl is considered the must-see event for NFL coaches and general managers as they prepare for the draft.
"I'm going to get to showcase what I can do in front of coaches and general managers," Pedersen said. "I want to show them that I'm a complete tight end. I want to show them that I'm able to get on top of linebackers and get physical in the passing game. It's going to come down to what I can do in this game and the combine."
In the limited amount of snaps the 6-4, 240 pound tight end will get in the Senior Bowl, Pedersen wants to erase any doubts that he can be an asset as a run blocker in the NFL.
"I think the big question about me is can I hold up in the running game. If they see me block, I think that's going to help me. I'm not going to be in on 70 plays like I did at Wisconsin. I have to make plays when I get the opportunity."
Pedersen was also selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jan. 18, but he passed on that opportunity when he was invited to the Senior Bowl Sunday.
Pedersen, who earned All-U.P. Dream laurels while playing for Menominee, finished off his career at Wisconsin this year with 551 yards on 30 receptions despite missing two games with an ankle injury.
He is listed on some draft projection boards as the sixth-best tight end in the country but Pedersen hasn't spent much time checking draft projections.
"I don't search it much, but I research guys who are graduating and see what their strengths and weaknesses are," Pedersen said.
The son of Paul and Ronda Pedersen is expected to be a middle round pick in the NFL Draft.
"Obviously, I'm a big Packer fan, and my mom is an even bigger Packer fan than I am. She might not support me if I played for anyone else," Pedersen said with a laugh. "It would definitely be a dream come true for me, but whoever wants me, I'm going to go play for."
Pedersen graduated from Wisconsin Dec. 21 and is still getting used to being called a UW graduate.
Looking back on his career, the Rose Bowl appearances stand out but a catch by the lightly-regarded "white boy from the U.P." is one of his best memories as a Badger.
"When I caught my first touchdown pass as a redshirt freshmen. There's always a doubt in your mind whether you can make it. When I caught that pass, that told me that I could succeed," Pedersen stated.
Pedersen returns to his hometown each year to talk to young students about living life with the right values and priorities, while offering a real-life example of how hard work and doing the right thing can make dreams come true.
His actions in the Madison community off the field have been as important as his heroics at Camp Randall.
"I got to see the effect you can have on people, either good or bad," said Pedersen. "Whether you're helping the elderly or whatever. You're always being watched. It doesn't matter where you are."
The Senior Bowl will be televised by the NFL Network at 3 p.m.