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Becoming the Center of Attention: Fond du Lac County Impact

Cory Raymer ’07 came back to complete his education at the UW after 11 seasons in the NFL.

Photo courtesy of UW Athletics.

When Cory Raymer ’07 left his hometown of Fond du Lac to become a student-athlete football player at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the thought never crossed his mind that he would leave the UW four years later as a consensus All-America center. There was a very good reason for that, too.

“I had never played center in my life,” he says.

Raymer was originally projected as a defensive lineman coming out of Goodrich High School.

“All of a sudden, the first day of training camp, I got introduced to Bill Callahan,” he says of the former offensive-line assistant under then–head coach Barry Alvarez. “He came up to me and says, ‘We’re going to try you at center.’ ”

By putting his trust in Callahan and Alvarez, and by learning the nuances of the position, Raymer started his last four games as a freshman and developed into the most decorated center in school history. In 1994, he was named a first-team All-American by seven national publications.

“I don’t know what they [Callahan and Alvarez] saw in me, but it was a stepping stone to my career in the NFL,” says Raymer, a second-round draft pick of the Washington Redskins in 1995 who went on to play for 11 seasons with the Redskins (two tours of duty) and the San Diego Chargers.

“Growing up there [the UW] was special — it was the greatest time of my life. If there was such a thing as Groundhog Year instead of Groundhog Day, I would go back and do it and not feel cheated in life whatsoever.”

“Growing up there [the UW] was special — it was the greatest time of my life.”

As a pro, Raymer was tested throughout his career by injuries, which prevented him from completely fulfilling all of his expectations. He retired in 2005 with 83 starts in 98 games. Coincidentally, the player who replaced him in the starting lineup with the Redskins was Casey Rabach, another former Badger.

In retrospect, Raymer was grateful to play as long as he did in the NFL. “I was able to continue living a dream and be a kid,” he says.

He completed his education and graduated from the UW in 2007 with a history degree. Today Raymer lives outside of Washington, DC, and works for Titan Management.

Thank you, Fond du Lac County, for Cory Raymer, who shows that hard work and a belief in yourself can help to make dreams come true.

Story condensed and edited from an article that first appeared in the UW Department of Athletics’ online magazine, Varsity, in 2012, written by Mike Lucas.

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