'A surreal feeling:' After Badgers career, Quintez Cephus receiving his chance to make NFL roster

Quintez Cephus

INDIANAPOLIS -- Going through the NFL draft can be an agonizing time for a college prospect. All he can do is try to have patience until he finds out what team he gets to join.

One Wisconsin Badger has already spent many anxious moments waiting to learn his football fate.

In late April, Quintez Cephus hopes to be in the news as an NFL draft choice out of Wisconsin. He was in bold print this past season with 59 receptions -- seven of them for scores -- and he was front-page material back in August of 2018 when he was charged with sexual assault, kicked off the Badgers' football team and out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison altogether.

Quintez Cephus in court

"What I missed most about football was being around my teammates," Cephus said. "A bond, that family that you have in a locker room."

In August of 2019, Cephus was acquitted of the charges and subsequently allowed back into school and onto the team.

"My lawyer kind of told me either this is going to be really good, or it's going to be really bad, and that's was like five seconds before I sat down in my chair to hear the verdict," said Cephus. "Just listening to the judge read off 'not guilty' verdicts for both charges, I was kind of...it was a surreal feeling."

MADISON, WI - SEPTEMBER 09: Quintez Cephus #87 of the Wisconsin Badgers makes a catch in the second quarter against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Camp Randall Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Cephus moved from his home state of Georgia to Wisconsin as a teenager. While in college, his father was killed. The UW community -- on and off the field -- gave him a warm embrace and tons of support. When he encountered legal problems, was expelled from school and kicked off the team, his coach and his teammates welcomed him back. He has the personality that people seem to like; he hopes it's a personality that an NFL team will like, too.

"When I first got back, you can only imagine the turnaround from going to trial and being reinstated and waiting and the next day being at practice," said Cephus. "Seeing the team respond with more energy when I was able to come back, I don't really know, it's a gift from God for sure."

Cephus' story has taken many directions.

He left college football one year early with the expectation of being drafted and slotted into a pro team. He is about to find out how well he read his situation.