WVU's Madsen Working Toward NFL Dream - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU's Madsen Working Toward NFL Dream

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MORGANTOWN -

Joe Madsen has no choice but to look to the future and leave the events of the past behind him.

The West Virginia center wrapped up his senior season about a month earlier than he was scheduled to after failing to remain academically eligible in his final semester. What should have been a bowl trip to New York City with his teammates ended up with the Mountaineers' top lineman watching the game from home.

"It's always going to be in the back of my head, what ifs and stuff like that, but I know what I did, I know that I screwed up and I let a bunch of people down," says Madsen. "I really feel bad about it, but right now the focus is on moving forward and getting to that next level."

His training for a shot at the National Football League has placed Madsen in Carnegie, Pa., where he works with Jim Sweeney, a former offensive lineman who spent 16 seasons with the New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers. Along the way, he logged time across the line, learning each position.

Now, he's teaching Madsen the lessons and the techniques that he used throughout his career.

"He's got a really good knowledge of the game and he's teaching me stuff that I've never even thought of before," says Madsen. "It's just more to add to my toolbox, so it's been great."

He starts his day every morning at 8 a.m., training for two or three hours before taking a lunch break and heading back to meet Sweeney for more work. In addition to all he does physically to prepare his body for the rigors of the NFL, he has been put on a strict diet.

For a 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman, the food aspect of his training may be the most difficult part.

"They've got me taking protein shakes and eating really healthy now. I'm eating vegetables, which is a lineman's pet peeve, so I just have to cram those down," he says.

Much of what Madsen does these days is under the direction of Adam Heller, his agent. Heller is part of the team at Vantage Management and has experience representing Green Bay's Jeff Saturday, San Francisco's Alex Boone and Cleveland's John Greco, all of whom are offensive linemen.

The success Heller has had getting those players where they need to be was a major factor in Madsen choosing his representation, and he has seen it pay off already.

Madsen credits Heller with "working his tail off" to get him an invitation to the Senior Bowl, one which he quickly accepted and considers among his biggest accomplishments as a collegiate athlete.

"The Senior Bowl is a great opportunity and I can't wait to get down to Alabama and get with a bunch of guys who I know are going to get drafted. I'm right up there with them, so that's nice," says Madsen.

He has learned a lot about what to expect from former WVU teammates who have participated in the all-star game as well as other athletes he is working with in Carnegie. The game itself, while the focus of the week, is just one small part compared to the rest of the opportunity that he has to speak with coaches and to market himself for the upcoming NFL Combine and Draft.

Madsen is hopeful that following the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26, he will receive an invitation to the Combine at the end of February.

"I'm checking my email everyday just hoping and praying [and invite] comes," Madsen says.

In the meantime, he keeps his head down and focuses on the only thing he can control, which is himself. There is no point in worrying about the outside factors that he does not decide, but if he works hard enough and shows what he has to those decision makers, he should be fine.

That same mentality is what will get him through the draft in April.

"I've heard everything from second to third round to not being drafted," Madsen says of his prospects. "My whole thing is to not worry about that kind of stuff and I never have. I've never looked at any status to see where I'm at. I just work as hard as I can and wherever the chips fall, that's where I'll go. I'll just show them what I can do and hopefully they'll like me."

Don Barclay, Madsen's former teammate along the Mountaineers offensive line, provided inspiration and encouragement for the center this past season as he worked himself into the starting rotation with the Green Bay Packers.

Barclay had been undrafted, but proved himself as a rookie free agent and seeing the success he had has motivated Madsen.

"To me, Donny making it that big shows me that it's all on you if you want to make it," says Madsen. "I played with Donny, I know what he can do and I know his athletic ability and I feel like I'm right up there with him, so there's no reason why I can't at least have an opportunity."

His opportunity is there. What's left is to take advantage of it.   

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