Former Badger Bortolini makes favorable impression at Senior Bowl

By Gery Woelfel

MOBILE, Ala. – Tanor Bortolini is a man on a mission.

Bortolini, who played the last four seasons for the University of Wisconsin, came to this week’s Senior Bowl with the expressed purpose of showing NFL officials that he has what it takes to play at the next level.

He wanted to make it crystal clear that he is an ascending player, a player who has learned from his college mistakes, a player who is willing and capable of playing anywhere he’s asked to play on the offensive line.

“I’m hoping to prove that I can play all those spots (on the offensive line) at a high level against really good competition,’’ Bortolini said. “I think snap-wise, this season, there were things I needed to clean up.

“Coming here, I wanted to prove to them (NFL officials) that I’ve been working on that and that it has improved and that it won’t be an issue going forward.’’

The primary issue Bortolini had at Wisconsin in his first season as a center was his inconsistent ability to make clean and precise snaps. That hasn’t been an issue during multiple practices his week.

He’s turned in virtually error-less performances whether at center or both guard positions. On several occasions, he drew vocal praise from is coaches for his play and competiveness.

Overall, Bortollini has been pleased by his showing.

“On Day 1 here, I could feel the rust,’’ said Bortolini, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds on the Senior Bowl roster. “It has been two months since I took a live reps, so I was working through some things.

“But I felt things got a lot better after that. I feel I’ve progressed a lot farther and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable playing and getting back into the swing of things.

“It’s exciting. I thought I’ve had some good days and it’s all about stacking good days.’’

Bortolini, who earned All-Big Ten Conference third-team honors last season despite playing center for the first time as a Badger, has been working on his craft almost non-stop since declaring for the draft.

And his workload isn’t about to diminish anytime soon. After today’s Senior Bowl game, which can be seen on the NFL Network starting at noon (CST), Bortolini will be heading to Indianapolis later this month for the all-important NFL Combine.

If Bortolini does as well there as he’s done here, it’s inevitable he’ll be hearing his name called sooner than later during the NFL draft that commences on April 25 in Detroit

  • Bortolini is expected to be one of two Wisconsin players chosen in the draft.

Running back Braelon Allen is generally regarded as one of the top six running backs in the draft and cold be a Day 2 selection.

Bortolini said he thoroughly enjoyed blocking for Allen and fully expects him to excel in the NFL like he did as a Badger.

“He’s a great player,’’ Bortolini said of Allen, a three-time All-Big Ten second team selection who is just 20 years old. “I’m excited for him. “He did a lot of great things at Wisconsin and he’s got a really bright future. I couldn’t be more excited for him.’’