UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Freshman Landisch focused on finding way to contribute

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FB_110821_Landisch_Derek.jpgIn high school, Derek Landisch was so versatile that his Hall of Fame coach -- Hartland Arrowhead's Tom Taraska -- felt like he could have probably played any position except quarterback.

From the perspective that Landisch, an all-state linebacker, had the athleticism and the savvy to excel in a variety of different roles, Taraska paid him the ultimate compliment.

Taraska, now retired, compared Landisch to Chris Borland.

"I've heard that,'' Landisch said sheepishly of the comparison. "But Chris has established himself on the college level and that's something I haven't done yet.''

Borland, a throwback to the one-platoon era of college football, has played outside linebacker, rush end and middle linebacker for the Badgers, along with kicking extra points and returning kicks.

In 2009, Borland had such an overall impact that he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Now he's hoping to bounce back in 2011 after missing most of last season with a shoulder injury.

Borland has seen enough of Landisch in training camp to be impressed with his upside.

"He's athletic and he has potential,'' Borland said. "He's a little ball of energy.''

Both are listed at 5-11, though Borland has filled out to 245 pounds while Landisch is 225.

"Derek is very strong,'' continued Borland, a redshirt sophomore from Kettering, Ohio. "All the freshmen are strong, but he's explosive and that's something not a lot of guys have.''

What's the best advice Borland could offer Landisch?

"Focus on the little things to get better,'' he said. "A lot of guys don't take the little things seriously enough. Little things accumulate. You have to stay on top of everything on and off the field.''

There's no guarantee that Landisch will even get on the field this season for the Badgers. Like a majority of his teammates in the freshman class, he's a candidate to be redshirted.

On the other hand, UW coach Bret Bielema has never been shy about utilizing first-year players; particularly if he feels like they can contribute on special teams and bolster the depth at a position.

Landisch sounds like he has a firm grasp of the situation. "I'm trying to help the team anyway I can,'' he said. "It changes from day to day, so you've always got to be ready as the next guy in.''

That has been the case for Landisch who has been getting reps behind Mike Taylor and Conor O'Neill. When they've been out with injuries, he has taken advantage of his openings.

How has Landisch stayed ready? "You have to take mental reps on the sidelines,'' he said, "so when you do have the opportunity you know what's going on.''

UW linebacker coach Dave Huxtable has played a noteworthy role in getting him ready, too.

"He's intense, he coaches with passion,'' Landisch of Huxtable, the former Central Florida defensive coordinator. "He's a very good teacher in meetings. He makes you want to do good for him.''

Landisch has been driven, in part, by something Taraska was fond of saying.

"If you're not getting better, you're getting worse,'' Landisch said. "So he (Taraska) basically told me to get better every single day whether it's in the film room, the weight room or on the field.''

Stay humble and do your job.

Landisch got that advice -- along with his work ethic -- from his father, Robert.

"He works third shift as a bread distributor,'' Landisch said. "He'd go to my high school game and have just one hour of sleep before going to work at midnight.

"Seeing that commitment out of my dad made me work harder.''

Coming into the UW training camp, Landisch felt like he may be able contribute immediately.

"I felt like that -- anyway I can -- whether on scout team or filling a backup role,'' he said. "I've just tried to work my tail off and let the rest happen.

"The best thing I can do right now is get in the film room and learn from my mistakes. I have to keep my nose in the playbook, too. The biggest adjustment for a freshman is the mental side of things.

"All the guys have been really helpful and supportive. They'll tell you what you're doing wrong, and what you're doing right. They're always helping you get better.

"Mike Taylor has been helping me day-in and day-out with reading keys and stuff on the field. The toughest part so far has been getting used to the tempo at practice.''

Landisch has been pragmatic in the approach that he has taken to earning playing time.

"I take it one day at a time,'' he said. "I don't even look at the next day's schedule.  Team meeting, I focus on the team meeting. Position meeting, I focus on the position meeting.

"I take it one event at a time so I can give it my best.''

And if that should be good enough to earn Landisch a spot on special teams?

"Anyway I can help this team,'' he said, "that's what I'm all about.''

So what has Landisch enjoyed most about his first college training camp?

"Just being around the guys and playing football,'' he said. "I love to compete, I love this game. There's no where I'd rather be than here.''

Borland has obviously already rubbed off on him.

"Heckuva player, heckuva motor,'' Landisch said. "He's a great guy to learn from.''

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Nice article about a good Wisconsin kid that is going to be fun to watch over the 4 to 5 years. He represents what Wisconsin football is all about. Nice to mention his dad and his high school football coach as well

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