INDIANAPOLIS — Vince Biegel’s mullet was so popular at Wisconsin it should have had its own Twitter handle.
Or at least its own hashtag.
“His mullet usually is a fan favorite … I guess,” Wisconsin running back Dare Ogunbowale said with a laugh.
But Biegel, the former Badgers linebacker, sheared off his long locks in December before the team’s Cotton Bowl victory against Western Michigan. As he approached his table at the NFL combine on Saturday, Biegel’s hair remained tight and short. His next mullet will have to wait.
“I’ve actually been getting that question quite a bit,” Biegel said. “I cut the mullet off actually before the bowl game and kind of the mindset behind that was I’ve got some job interviews coming up and until I get some job security, at that time I’ll think about bringing the mullet back.
“But I’m enjoying the short hair. I’ve got a wedding coming up this summer, too. I know the fiancée is liking the short hair, but it’s all business here in Indy.”
— Cotton Bowl Classic (@CottonBowlGame) December 29, 2016
While Biegel’s hair endeared him to fans, it was his play, durability and toughness that led him to the NFL combine. Biegel missed only two games with a broken foot last season but still tied school records for games played (54) and starts (40). He ranks seventh in Wisconsin history with 21.5 sacks and No. 10 with 39.5 tackles for loss.
After starting his career as an inside linebacker, the 6-foot-3 1/2, 246-pound Biegel shifted outside when the Badgers changed from a 4-3 to a 3-4 attack. At outside linebacker, Biegel became a force in Wisconsin’s destructive defense. During Biegel’s four years on the field, the Badgers allowed just 16.6 points and 292.5 total yards per game. Those are the second-best numbers among FBS schools over that span, behind only Alabama (15.1 ppg, 287.6 ypg).
Wisconsin’s defense showcased defenders such as Chris Borland, Joe Schobert and T.J. Watt and their skill sets. The same goes for Biegel. He remains team-first and loves his former teammates like brothers. But he’s also aware that the combine is a job interview.
“When you come here, it’s definitely an individual thing,” Biegel said. “If I would say Vince Biegel, sell myself, I would say that I am a first-round type of player. And any team that doesn’t get me in the first round is getting a steal on me. What I mean about that is by my professionalism, how I go about my business, my work ethic and my upside.
“I think definitely I’m a first-round talent, but a team would get a steal on me if they don’t draft me there.”
Biegel, a four-time academic All-Big Ten selection, has had both formal and informal interviews with NFL clubs while in Indianapolis. Many of the questions circled around his early-season broken foot.
“I was able to talk to the scouts and let them know that my foot is 100 percent,” Biegel said. “There’s no issues, no lingering effects, no soreness. I’ve been training hard on it; I played eight games already on it. There’s no question marks when it comes to the foot, and it’s nice to have that conversation with the coaches, the staff, the doctors from each respective team.”
The combine experience is stressful for all potential players, and Biegel admitted the pressure is real. But he also called it “a blessing.”
“This is what we’ve trained for since our Pop Warner days and being able to come here and showcase that, being able to talk to all of these different NFL teams, really, what an experience,” he said. “I’m living a childhood dream, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve got amazing family support. I’ve got a great fiancée. We’re excited for the next dream, wherever that may be.”