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Twenty-six former Wisconsin high school football players in the NFL this year

09/14/2015, 2:00pm CDT
By Travis Wilson

Deservedly, J.J. Watt gets significant attention as one of the brightest stars ever from the state of Wisconsin. But the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year isn't the only former Wisconsin high school athlete in the NFL this season. A total of 26 Badger State players are on rosters, practice squads, or on injured reserve in 2015. It is a slight dip from last season's number of 29.

Among players joining the NFL this year are Heisman trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon (Kenosha Bradford) of the San Diego Chargers, high school teammate and fellow First Rounder Trae Waynes (Kenosha Bradford) of the Minnesota Vikings, and former college walk-on Ethan Hemer (Medford) of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who is on the practice squad.

Unfortunately, it appears the NFL dream may have come to an end for seven former Wisconsin athletes: Gabe Carimi (Monona Grove), Bradie Ewing, (Richland Center), Ben Gardner (Homestead), Peter Konz (Neenah), Jim Leonhard (Flambeau), Nick Roach (Milwaukee Lutheran), and Nick Toon (Middleton). All seven players were in the NFL last year, but retired or were released prior to 2015. They may still latch on at some point, but the odds are against them.

In addition to Watt, Travis Frederick (Big Foot) of the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo (Burlington) of the Cowboys, and Joe Thomas (Brookfield Central) of the Cleveland Browns were selected to the Pro Bowl this season. 

In the off-season, produced its annual list of the Top Players of the 2015 season. Watt grabbed the #1 spot, Thomas was 25th, Romo came in 34th, and DeAndre Levy (Milwaukee Vincent) of the Detroit Lions was ranked 66th despite being surprisingly left out of the Pro Bowl.

Below is the full list of Wisconsin players in the NFL this year.

For the latest and most up to date football news and recruiting information, follow Travis on Twitter @travisWSN. Email story ideas, recruiting info, etc. to Travis at travis(at)

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