Feeling healthy again, Badgers' Dietzen brings experience, versatility to line

Wisconsin offensive lineman Jon Dietzen spent much of his time away from football watching games and wondering how well he could still play if injuries hadn’t caused him to give it up.

The response he got from family members sparked his decision to attempt a comeback.

“My family helped convince me I really should come back and do it,” Dietzen said. “I remember watching games and saying, ‘Oh, I bet I could still do that.’ They said, ‘Well, if you think you can, why don’t you?’”

Dietzen, who has made 32 career starts, is back with the Badgers after taking off the 2019 season. He says he’s feeling better and ready to contribute whatever he can when the 16th-ranked Badgers open their season Oct. 23 by hosting Illinois.

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Teammates and coaches say Dietzen already is making a major difference.

“He’s been an absolute blast to be around,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “There’s obviously a maturity that he brings but also that appreciation. Something was taken away and now (he’s) getting to play.”

Dietzen made a combined 20 starts at left guard in 2016-17 and was the Badgers’ first-team left tackle in 2018, but he struggled with ankle and hip injuries for much of his career. He underwent hip surgery before the 2018 season.

“He just is an incredible warrior,” offensive tackle Cole Van Lanen said. “He’s battled through so much.”

All those injuries finally caused Dietzen to announce via social media in February 2019 that he was giving up

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