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February 21, 2007

Joe Thomas diary: A juggling act

• Rivals.com Mock Draft
• NFL Draft Early Entries
• Combine roster: Offense
• Combine roster: Defense
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Wisconsin offensive tackle Joe Thomas just finished a senior season in which he earned the Outland Trophy and first-team All-America honors from Rivals.com.

The last time we checked in with Thomas, he discussed interviewing with other teams at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., although he did not participate in the game.

This week, he talked about preparing for the NFL Combine while also trying to plan a wedding. Thomas also selected an agent, which had been a difficult process in recent months.

I hired a guy out of Denver named Peter Schaffer from All Pro Sports and Entertainment. He really paid attention to detail as far as all aspects to how the process goes – training, the Combine, preparing for draft itself, preparing for what happens after the draft with contract negotiations and everything. We looked at the process the same way. We really saw eye to eye.

I leave Wednesday for Combine, and I'll be there from Wednesday to Saturday. I plan on doing everything from a testing standpoint. (In the last week of preparations), you're just trying to cover all of your bases to be ready.

Many college coaches say they see their players in the best shape of their careers in the months before the draft, is that true of you as well?

I'm in pretty good shape. Every season I've gone into as a Badger, I've been in good shape. I didn't go through my college career not in good shape. I'm at 308 right now. I've been at 310 in the last year.

I hired a guy that used to work for the athletic department as my personal chef – Brian Rizzo. He's a corporate chef who used to work for the Wisconsin athletic department and does this on the side. He makes two meals a day for me. Part of training is eating healthy and it takes a lot of time to cook meals the right way. He cooks for me twice a day. Two times a week, he'll drop off a big container of all my meals. I put it in the microwave and a couple minutes later it's ready.

How strict are his instructions?

You can eat any of it at anytime. He's not a drill sergeant or anything. He's got everything labeled like a mother would. (The food is) better than it was when I was a member of the team. The thing we try to do for lunch is something with high carbohydrates, like pasta, and then a high protein meal at night for dinner. It's varied. Rarely is it the same. There's a lot of chicken because it's the best thing for your body. He makes a stir fry for me that's outstanding since I like lot of peppers.

What is it like preparing for the NFL Draft while planning a wedding?

I'm trying to do it all at once. I'm trying to plan a wedding. My fiancιe is Annie Nelson. She was a basketball player at Wisconsin for four years. She's trying to get into sports broadcasting. We're getting married July 7 in Madison. I'm there for support. We've done a lot of the bigger decisions, but we're still working on what kind of invitations we want and those kinds of things. We already have a place and time.

My whole life I've had to juggle a bunch of things. In high school, I played a few sports. In college, I also did track. I'm kind of used to doing that. I'm able to do this without too much stress. My fiancιe has done a good job of handling some of this stuff for me.

More NFL Draft Diaries:
Boston College's Josh Beekman | Georgia's Danny Ware | Florida's Marcus Thomas

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