West Virginia All-Big 12 center Joe Madsen, who started 50 games in his four-year career, made his first public comments since being suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl because he was academically ineligible.
“I messed up. I should have been going to classes and doing the right thing,” Madsen told TribLive Radio. “Things didn't go my way, and I screwed up a little bit.”
Madsen, who's in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl, started every game he played at WVU, missing only two games — both times because he was academically ineligible. Madsen also missed the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl.
“There were some family things,” Madsen said. “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer before the season. I didn't focus in. I dug myself a hole, and I couldn't get out of it.
“I talked to all the guys and told them I was sorry. There's still real good relationships down there.”
Madsen said he has spoken with NFL teams about why he didn't play in his final college game, a 38-14 loss to Syracuse on Dec. 29.
“I just put it all on the table,” said Madsen, who will play for the North team in Saturday's Senior Bowl. “I'm going up against top talent, the best of the best. If I have a good game, it puts me up there with the top people.”
Madsen didn't have the opportunity to play one last time with WVU teammate Geno Smith, who's projected as the top quarterback available in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Because of his draft status, Smith made the decision not to play in the Senior Bowl. Madsen doesn't question Smith's ability to play at the next level.
“He's that calm, cool quarterback that steps up when he needs to,” Madsen said.
John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.
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