Wisconsin Michigan Football KP

Wisconsin wide receiver Kendric Pryor finished with eight catches for 119 yards last season.

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University of Wisconsin outside linebacker Izayah Green-May has been a Chicago Bears fan his entire life, but never has been to a game at Soldier Field. His first game at the stadium will be his own when UW takes on Notre Dame on Saturday. 

Green-May and his siblings would watch as many games as they could together. Some of his most distinct memories of watching the Bears former linebacker Brian Urlacher.

“He was always a guy that I looked up to,” Green-May said. “In Madden, I’m always using No. 54, getting sacks every play. That was my guy for sure.”

There are a handful of Bears fans on UW’s roster, including Kendric Pryor, Jack Sanborn and Mike Maskalunas, who all grew up in Illinois rooting for Chicago. They then moved to Packers territory when they decided to play for the Badgers. 

The rivalry between the Bears and Packers is legendary, so different guys took different approaches to sharing their love of the Bears. Maskalunas said he made sure to wear his Bears jersey in Wisconsin to show where his loyalties lie. Green-May said he went undercover his first couple of months so his teammates wouldn’t give him trouble for liking the Bears. 

“Obviously guys give me crap, but it's not bad,” Sanborn said. “I feel like I’ve had times where I’m watching almost more Packers games here than Bears games, so I don't really like that. I'm a football fan, so whatever game is on I'll watch. I'm a fan of good football.”

Maskalunas was dubbed the biggest Bears fan on the team by a few of his teammates. He said getting the opportunity to play in his favorite NFL team’s stadium is surreal. Add in that he’ll have some family members in the stadium, and he’s looking forward to the experience. 

“We play in a lot of pretty cool stadiums in college,” Maskalunas said. “Anytime you get the chance to play in an NFL stadium, it just adds a little something extra to it. I’m just excited to be out there playing in front of Chicago.”

Pryor had the chance to play a high school state football game at the University of Illinois, but not in Soldier Field like some other high schools. He said the specialness of Soldier Field isn’t because he’s a Bears fan but because of the proximity to his family. 

He doesn’t have a favorite NFL team any more, but he still does cheer for the Bears because of their receivers. 

“Everybody's asking me for tickets, but I don’t know if I can get the whole fam (in),” Pryor said. “But actually playing in Chicago, where I have all of my family members closer than I do to U of I, just having them knowing that even if they don't come, they'll be watching on TV. It's going to be pretty cool to get a chance to play at home.”

Players only get four tickets to Saturday’s game, which makes it harder for local players to get their entire families into the stadium. Pryor said he’s been asking his teammates that don’t live close to Chicago to pass along their extra tickets so he can get more of his family there. 

Green-May already said his mom is going to be in the stands He said she’s the biggest Bears fan he’s ever met — yes, including Maskalunas — so she might get emotional when she sees her son step onto Soldier Field. 

The Bolingbrook, Illinois, native said he probably won’t cry, but he’ll definitely be swiping some blades of grass and turf pellets as a souvenir. 

Maskalunas said being able to step on the field and play such a high profile game definitely will make top five moments in his collegiate career. 

“Whenever I run out there, I try to take a moment just to look around and soak it all in because what we’re able to do with these opportunities is pretty cool,” Maskalunas said. “I’ll probably take an extra second just to really breathe in that air, look around and just be in the moment.”

This article originally ran on madison.com.

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