Thousands of teenagers play high school football each year in Wisconsin.
Only a handful of those will ever suit up for the University of Wisconsin.
Fewer still will be able to call themselves an NFL player.
There’s something extra special about following that route and getting the chance to play for or against the Green Bay Packers.
Don Davey is one of the rare players who got to do both.
Davey played at Manitowoc Lincoln High School before starring for the Badgers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He started his NFL career with the Packers before joining the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars, and is one of just 101 players since 1946 to follow the Wisconsin high school to Madison to NFL path.
“It was a dream come true,” Davey said. “I started playing tackle football when I was a 5-year-old in kindergarten, so it was a process which began way back then.”
Davey also is part of a select group of 12 players to play high school football in Wisconsin, play their entire collegiate careers in Madison and then get drafted by the Packers.
“If you get to play at Lambeau Field and it’s the first time you get on that field, whether you’re with the Cowboys or Jets, it’s something special,” Davey said.
When asked what it’s like to line up opposite the team whose following is close to a religion, Davey said, “I’d say it’s a little strange for all of us, but at the end of the day the team is paying you to do your job. Before and after the game, you can be a little bit in awe of them, but for 60 minutes it’s just football.
"I had to play my buddies in my first year with Jacksonville when the Packers came to town. I didn't sack him, but I did get a couple good shots in on Brett Favre."
Following is a list of state high school players who went on to play for the Badgers and then for and/or against the Packers since 1946.
(Name, high school, years played)
Elroy Hirsch, Wausau, 1946-57: NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver best known for his “Crazy Legs” nickname was a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. He caught 387 passes for 7,029 yards and 60 touchdowns in 12 seasons, including nine with the Los Angeles Rams.
Lloyd Wasserbach, Sturgeon Bay, 1946: The offensive tackle was drafted in the 21st round by the Packers in the 1943 draft but didn’t play until three years later with the Chicago Rockets.
Pat Harder, Washington (Milwaukee), 1946-53: The running back started his career with the Chicago Cardinals, ending his time there as a Pro Bowler in 1950. He spent his final three years in Detroit, earning a second Pro Bowl in 1952.
George Hekkers, Washington (Milwaukee), 1946-49: The offensive lineman made 14 career starts in 41 games, with a career-high six starts in 1949 with Detroit.
Jack Mead, West Division (Milwaukee), 1946-47: The receiver spent two seasons with the New York Giants, catching nine passes for 127 yards.
Clarence Esser, Central (Madison), 1947: The receiver played seven games in his lone professional season with the Chicago Cardinals.
Don Kindt, Washington (Milwaukee), 1947-55: The two-way player split time at running back and defensive back early in his career before switching to full-time defense in 1950. The highlight of his nine-year career with the Chicago Bears was in 1953 when he intercepted six passes and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Jug Girard, Marinette, 1948-57: The versatile player spent his first four years with the Packers, then five years in Detroit and a final season with Pittsburgh. He split time at quarterback, receiver, defensive back and defensive lineman.
Dick Loepfe, East Division (Milwaukee), 1948-49: The offensive lineman’s career was short, starting four games in his second and final pro season with the Chicago Cardinals.
Earl Maves, Stanley, 1948: At age 25, the wing back played one game for Detroit.
Stan Heath, Shorewood, 1949: The quarterback was the fifth overall pick in the 1949 draft by the Packers but started just one of 12 games in his only season.
Wally Dreyer, Washington (Milwaukee)/University (Milwaukee), 1949-50: The 17th-round pick by the Bears as a running back started all 12 games of the 1950 season with the Packers at defensive back. He had five interceptions, including one for a touchdown.
Bill Albright, Horlick (Racine), 1951-54: The two-way lineman started 37 games in four seasons with the New York Giants.
Gene Felker, North Division (Milwaukee), 1952: The receiver started three of the six games he played for the Dallas Texans, catching six passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Pat O’Donahue, Regis (Eau Claire), 1952-55: The defensive end started his career with San Francisco, starting five games before taking a two-year hiatus and ending his playing days with the Packers, starting seven of 12 games.
Deral Teteak, Oshkosh, 1952-56: The linebacker made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, starting all 12 games for the Packers. He played four more seasons for Green Bay, making 34 starts in 49 games.
Ken Huxhold, Kenosha, 1954-58: The guard started 39 of 59 games with Philadelphia in five seasons.
Alan Ameche, Bradford (Kenosha), 1955-60:The fullback was a first-team All-Pro as a rookie with the Baltimore Colts, starting a string of four straight Pro Bowl selections.
Harland Carl, Greenwood, 1956: The running back spent his lone season with the Bears, rushing 29 times for 66 yards and a touchdown.
John Dittrich, Cudahy, 1956-61: The guard played each of his four seasons with a different team, his best season as a rookie with the Chicago Cardinals before taking a two-year hiatus.
Jim Haluska, St. Catherine’s (Racine), 1956: The quarterback attempted four passes for the Bears in his lone pro season.
Jim Temp, Aquinas (La Crosse), 1957-60: The defensive end played 43 games in four seasons for the Packers, making 20 starts.
Dale Hackbart, East (Madison), 1960-73: The defensive back played for Green Bay, Washington, Minnesota, St. Louis and Denver. His standout season of 1961 was split between Green Bay and Washington, intercepting six passes including two for touchdowns.
Bob Schmitz, New Holstein, 1961-66: The linebacker spent all but two of 51 games in six seasons with Pittsburgh.
Jim Bakken, West (Madison), 1962-78: The kicker was a four-time Pro Bowler with the St. Louis Cardinals, earning back-to-back All-Pro honors in 1975-76.
Pat Richter, East (Madison), 1963-70: The former UW athletic director was the seventh overall selection in the 1963 draft by Washington, where he spent his eight-year career. His most productive year was 1968, when he caught nine touchdowns at tight end.
Ron Vander Kelen, Preble (Green Bay), 1963-67: The quarterback made five starts in five seasons and 29 games with Minnesota.
Ralph Kurek, Watertown, 1965-70: The running back for the Bears made 12 starts in 81 games.
Gary Kroner, Premontre (Green Bay), 1965-67: The kicker was drafted in the sixth round by Green Bay but played three seasons for Denver of the American Football League.
Roger Pillath, Coleman, 1965-66: The offensive tackle made seven starts in 20 games in two seasons split between the Rams and Pittsburgh.
Carl Silvestri, Shorewood, 1965-66: The defensive back and return man made six starts as a rookie with St. Louis before playing three games for Atlanta in his final season.
Greg Kent, Whitewater, 1966-68: The two-way lineman played seven games as a rookie for Oakland before a one-year hiatus and five more games with Detroit.
Paul Sobocinski, South Milwaukee, 1968: The center started all seven games he played during his lone pro season with Atlanta.
Ken Criter, New Holstein, 1969-74: The linebacker played 75 games in six seasons with Denver.
Stu Voigt, West (Madison), 1970-80: Starting in his fourth season, the tight end made at least 13 starts per season for Minnesota over the next five years. He caught 177 passes for 1,919 yards and 17 touchdowns in 11 seasons.
Mike Webster, Rhinelander, 1974-90: The Hall of Fame center anchored the line for Pittsburgh, earning nine trips to the Pro Bowl and five All-Pro selections. He was a four-time Super Bowl champion in 17 seasons, the first 15 in Pittsburgh before ending his career in Kansas City.
Jack Novak, Kewaunee, 1975-77: The tight end started three of 35 games spent with Cincinnati and Tampa Bay.
Terry Stieve, Baraboo, 1976-84: The offensive guard carved out a long career, spending two seasons with New Orleans before his final six years in St. Louis. He started all but 15 games in his 113-game career.
Tim Stracka, West (Madison), 1983-84: The tight end played 19 games in two seasons with Cleveland, making one start.
Dave Levenick, Grafton, 1983-84: The linebacker for Atlanta played 24 games in two seasons.
Tim Krumrie, Mondovi, 1983-94: The 10th-round draft pick by Cincinnati had a 12-year career, including back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1987-88 and an All-Pro selection in '88. The defensive lineman had more than 1,000 tackles and 34.5 sacks.
Dan Turk, Madison (Milwaukee), 1985-99: The offensive lineman had a 15-year career with four teams, including starting all 16 games at center with Oakland in 1995.
Jeff Dellenbach, East (Wausau), 1985-99: The versatile offensive lineman spent the first 10 years of 15-year career with Miami, starting 87 of 161 games, before spending three seasons in Green Bay.
David Greenwood, Park Falls, 1985-88: The safety started nine games and intercepted five passes as a rookie with Tampa Bay. He’d play in just 11 more games across two seasons spent with the Packers and Raiders.
Scott Bergold, West (Wauwatosa), 1985: The offensive tackle spent one season on the bench with St. Louis, seeing action in all 16 games.
Bill Lobenstein, Deerfield, 1987: The defensive end played in three games for Denver in his lone season.
Sankar Montoute, St. John’s (Delafield), 1987: The linebacker and native of Trinidad started all three games he’d play for Tampa Bay, intercepting a pass and getting 1.5 sacks.
Tim Jordan, LaFollette (Madison), 1987-89: The linebacker made 10 starts in 30 games across three seasons with New England.
Rick Graf, Madison Memorial, 1987-93: The linebacker started all 16 games in his second season with Miami, but made just nine more starts in the following five seasons with Miami, Houston and Washington.
Paul Gruber, Sauk Prairie, 1988-99: The left tackle for Tampa Bay started all 183 games of his 12-year career and was a member of the NFL All-Rookie Team.
Glenn Derby, Oconomowoc, 1989-90: The offensive lineman played seven games in two seasons for New Orleans.
Don Davey, Manitowoc Lincoln, 1991-97: The defensive lineman played four seasons in Green Bay before leaving for then-expansion Jacksonville. He started all but four of 42 games for the Jaguars.
Joe Panos, East (Brookfield), 1994-2000: The offensive lineman started all 16 games in 1996 for Philadelphia. It was the start of a streak of starting every game he’d play in three seasons, the final season coming in Buffalo.
Chuck Belin, Vincent (Milwaukee), 1994-96: The guard started six games as a rookie for the Los Angles Rams but did not start another game when the team moved to St. Louis, seeing action in only seven more games in two seasons.
Mike Thompson, Portage, 1995-2000: The defensive tackle played 34 games in four seasons with Jacksonville, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
Brent Moss, Park (Racine), 1995: The running back rushed 22 times for 90 yards in four games during a lone season with St. Louis.
Cory Raymer, Fond du Lac, 1995-2005: The center spent 10 seasons with Washington, starting 83 of 98 games played.
Jason Maniecki, Wisconsin Dells, 1996-98: The Poland-born defensive tackle played 18 games in three seasons with Tampa Bay.
Daryl Carter, Washington (Milwaukee), 1997: The linebacker played one game with Chicago.
Jerry Wunsch, West (Wausau), 1997-2004: Chosen in the second round by Tampa Bay, the offensive lineman started 46 games in five seasons before ending his career with Seattle.
Donald Hayes, East (Madison), 1998-2002: The wide receiver’s best season was his third with Carolina, where he made 66 catches for 926 yards and three touchdowns. He played the last of his five seasons with New England.
Mike Schneck, Whitefish Bay, 1999-2009: The center was named to the Pro Bowl in 2005, his first of two seasons with Buffalo.
Tom Burke, Northwestern (Poplar), 1999-2002: The defensive end spent four seasons with Arizona, starting nine of 12 games in 2001.
Aaron Stecker, Ashwaubenon, 2000-09: The running back played for Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta. His best season was 2007, when he rushed 115 times for 448 yards and five touchdowns.
Mark Tauscher, Auburndale, 2000-2010: Despite never being selected to the Pro Bowl, the right tackle was a fixture for Green Bay in 11 seasons, starting all but two of the 134 games played.
Mike Solwold, Arrowhead (Hartland), 2001-04: The center played 13 games in three seasons split between Dallas, Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
Michael Bennett, Milwaukee Tech, 2001-10: The running back was a first-round pick by Minnesota and had his best season in 2002, rushing for 1,296 yards on 255 carries and being named to the Pro Bowl.
Ross Kolodziej, Stevens Point, 2001-07: The defensive tackle started 14 games in 2005 for Arizona, picking up three sacks while making 15 tackles.
Jason Doering, Rhinelander, 2001-04: The defensive back made six starts with Indianapolis in 2002 and played 53 games in four seasons.
Kevin Stemke, Preble (Green Bay), 2002-04: The punter played eight games in two seasons spent with Oakland and St. Louis.
Nick Greisen, Sturgeon Bay, 2002-08: The linebacker and fifth-round draft pick of the Giants played seven seasons, making 200 career tackles with four sacks and an interception.
Casey Rabach, Sturgeon Bay, 2002-10: The center started all but one game over his final seven seasons, including the final six with Washington after starting his career in Baltimore.
Al Johnson, Southern Door, 2004-08: The center started 45 of 66 games in five seasons with Dallas, St. Louis and Miami.
Jim Leonhard, Flambeau, 2005-14: UW's current defensive coordinator played with Buffalo, Baltimore, the Jets, Denver and Cleveland. The safety made 329 tackles and 14 interceptions.
Dan Buenning, Bay Port (Howard/Suamico), 2005-2008: The guard started all 16 games as a rookie for Tampa Bay but just seven of 20 games the rest of his three seasons.
B.J. Tucker, Nicolet (Glendale), 2005-06: The defensive back made one start in 10 games played with San Francisco.
Matt Katula, Catholic Memorial (Waukesha), 2005-11: The center played 93 games in seven seasons, including the first five with Baltimore.
Joe Thomas, Brookfield Central, 2007-17: The likely future Hall of Famer announced his retirement this offseason from Cleveland, where he started 167 straight games at left tackle. He was a 10-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro.
Nick Hayden, Arrowhead (Hartland), 2008-15: The defensive tackle started 60 of 76 games in seven seasons with Carolina, Cincinnati and Dallas, making 116 career tackles.
Travis Beckum, Oak Creek, 2009-12: The tight end caught 26 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns with the Giants. He won a Super Bowl in 2011.
DeAndre Levy, Vincent (Milwaukee), 2009-16: The former third-round draft pick spent all eight seasons of his career in Detroit. The linebacker's best season came in 2014 when he made 121 tackles and had 2.5 sacks.
*Chris Maragos, Horlick (Racine), 2010-17: In 99 career games with San Francisco, Seattle and Philadelphia, the defensive back has started three games.
Kraig Urbik, Hudson, 2010-16: The recently retired offensive lineman started 63 of 100 games, spending six seasons with Buffalo followed by a season in Miami.
Gabe Carimi, Monona Grove, 2011-14: The offensive lineman was a first-round draft pick for Chicago, but lasted just two seasons and 16 starts before spending a season each with Tampa Bay and Atlanta with 10 combined starts.
*J.J. Watt, Pewaukee, 2011-17: The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is a four-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro who started all 80 games on the defensive line for Houston to start his career before injuries limited him to eight games the past two seasons.
*Lance Kendricks, King (Milwaukee), 2011-17: The tight end spent the first six seasons of his career with St. Louis, catching 222 passes for 2,335 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s now entering his second season with Green Bay.
Nick Toon, Middleton, 2012-15: The son of former New York Jets receiver Al Toon, also a receiver, played 17 games with five starts in New Orleans.
*Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin Lutheran (Milwaukee), 2012-17: The guard spent the first five years of his career in Cincinnati before signing a free-agent contract with Cleveland. The former first-rounder has started all but one of the 88 games he’s played.
Bradie Ewing, Richland Center, 2012-14: The fullback spent three seasons in the league, starting two games in 2013 for Atlanta.
*Brad Nortman, Brookfield Central, 2012-2017: The punter started his career with Carolina before spending the past two in Jacksonville.
Peter Konz, Neenah, 2012-14: The offensive lineman appeared in 39 games, with 28 starts, for Atlanta.
*Ricky Wagner, Hale (West Allis), 2013-17: The offensive tackle joined Detroit last season as a free agent, coming over from Baltimore. He’s started 60 games in his career.
*Travis Frederick, Big Foot (Walworth), 2013-17: The first-round selection by Dallas has started all 80 games he’s played at center and has been a four-time Pro Bowler in addition to an All-Pro in 2016.
Mike Taylor, Ashwaubenon, 2014: The linebacker failed to get on the field as a 26-year-old rookie with Seattle.
*Ryan Groy, Middleton, 2014-17: The offensive lineman just signed a two-year, $5 million contact to remain in Buffalo, where he’s spent the past three seasons with eight starts.
Jared Abbrederis, Wautoma, 2014-17: The wide receiver caught 13 passes in 21 games across four seasons, including the first three with Green Bay as a fifth-round draft pick.
*Melvin Gordon, Bradford (Kenosha), 2015-17: The former 15th overall draft pick has started strong with San Diego, reaching the Pro Bowl in 2016 after rushing for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns.
*Joe Schobert, West (Waukesha), 2016-17: The middle linebacker started all 16 games last season with Cleveland and was named to the Pro Bowl after making 85 tackles and three sacks.
*Alex Erickson, Darlington, 2016-17: The wide receiver and return man has played in all 32 games the past two seasons for Cincinnati.
*Ryan Ramczyk, Stevens Point, 2017: The first-round draft pick was the starting offensive tackle in all 16 games as a rookie for New Orleans.
*T.J. Watt, Pewaukee, 2017: Pittsburgh's first-round selection had seven sacks in 15 starts at linebacker.
*Vince Biegel, Lincoln (Wisconsin Rapids), 2017: Biegel played in just nine games last season for the Packers due to injury, making seven tackles.
* — Denotes active NFL player
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story did not include Vince Biegel.