UW Health Sports Medicine 

Lucas at Large: Fredrick catches on at wide receiver

FB_120820_Fredrick_Jordan.jpegOne moment, Wisconsin wide receiver Jordan Fredrick was sprinting down field in a "combative'' -- a special teams drill pitting a kickoff cover man versus a retreating blocker.

 The next moment, Fredrick's heart was racing.

"I was thinking the worst -- a broken leg,'' he said.

You can understand his angst during last Wednesday night's practice at Camp Randall Stadium; especially since Fredrick spent last fall and spring rehabbing after shoulder surgery. Now, he was contemplating another worst case scenario following his collision with fellow wideout Chase Hammond.

"It was a scare,'' said Fredrick, a redshirt freshman from Madison Memorial High School. "I had a guy in high school who had the same thing happen to him in the same area (calf) -- it happened in a summer practice and it was pretty bad -- and it went through my mind.''

Fredrick was helped to the training room. "It was pretty painful,'' he said. "They wanted to give me X-rays because they weren't sure if it was broken or not. I was nervous. With the surgery last year you don't want to miss another year and you're always nervous about having that happen again.''

The X-rays were negative, and Fredrick didn't waste any time getting back on the practice field the very next day; bruised calf and all. There was an urgency to do so; and not only because he didn't want to lose any precious ground in his quest to secure a spot in the rotation at wide receiver.

"I didn't want to be that injury-prone guy that's sitting out practices and missing games throughout my career,'' Fredrick explained. "I was done with that during my redshirt year. So I wanted to come back right away. It (his left calf) was a little tender, but nothing to slow me down.''

The 2011 season had to seem like it was in slow motion to Fredrick, particularly after he got off to such a fast start during the first week of training camp. UW coach Bret Bielema was so encouraged by his early showing that he singled out Fredrick as a potential contributor as a true freshman.

"I didn't even know playing was an option that first year,'' admitted Fredrick, an all-state receiver and all-city linebacker as a senior at Memorial.  "I just came in trying to play my game and hopefully it would go well for me. And it ended up going pretty well in the beginning.''

Not unexpectedly, he wound up hitting a wall, like most freshmen. "That last week of camp was pretty rough on me -- just mentally,'' said Fredrick, who also missed some practice time because of a sinus infection. "I wasn't mature enough to handle it all.''

The Badgers decided to redshirt Fredrick, and he went to work on the scout team simulating opposing receivers for the No. 1 defense. But his effectiveness was limited because of shoulder pain. In mid-October, he had surgery to repair two tears in his labrum, one of which may have existed for years.

Looking back on his freshman season, Fredrick said, "It was a perfect experience for me; almost getting a shot to play and it not working out in the end; the decision to redshirt; the time I got on the scout team; and then that surgery. I got pretty much every perspective there is.''

In meetings, Fredrick became a good listener, and observer. "I was watching a lot of film, and doing a lot of cut-ups with the receivers who were playing that week,'' he said.

But there was also a negative to his inactivity which carried through spring practice. "You don't ever want to be sidelined ever again after that,'' he said. "So there's a lot more drive since then.''

Since he had never been injured to this extent, Fredrick relied on UW trainer Mike Moll and others to guide him through the more challenging stages of rehab. The support group included his girlfriend and his mom and dad, Andree and Craig, a former UW tight end in the early '80s.

"I got back faster,'' Jordan Fredrick said, "and almost stronger than ever.''

At Memorial, he possessed multiple strengths as a receiver, linebacker and defensive back. During his prep career, he had 113 catches for 1,216 yards and 15 TDs plus 163 tackles and 14 interceptions.

"My real passion was DB,'' said Fredrick, the Big 8 Conference Defensive Back of the Year as a junior. "Obviously, though, I'm not a college-level DB with quickness and all that stuff. But in high school I loved sitting back there and going up for balls and competing with wideouts.''

In making the jump to the collegiate level, Fredrick was given the option of playing on offense or defense. His response was swift and from the heart. "I always loved wideout,'' he said.

But there has been an adjustment period; which is still ongoing for UW's young receivers.

"It takes a lot more effort here (Wisconsin),'' he said. "You have to run all the time. In high school, to be honest, maybe if it was a run play, you'd take some off -- because a lot of high school players go both ways (offense and defense).

"At wideout here, you can't slow down at all. The game is obviously a lot faster and the DBs are a lot quicker, so you have to go 100 percent every play, all the time. If you give that effort, you will keep getting better every day, and you will get better in every aspect.''

When his players are on the field, first-year UW receivers coach Zach Azzanni is constantly reminding them to be violent. "That's always being sudden, always being violent with your hands and body movement,'' Fredrick said. "Everything you do in this game has to be violent, sudden.''

CTT is something else that has become ingrained: Catch, Tuck, Turn.

"A lot of guys want to catch, turn and tuck,'' Fredrick said. "When we watch on film, that's where we get a lot of our drops, myself included. Before you get to the tuck, you want to turn up field. It happens all the time.''

Azzanni's teaching points and high energy drills have clearly won over Fredrick. "I love it for sure,'' he said. "He doesn't let you slow down, which is great. His expectations are high.''

So are Fredrick's -- especially since that starting job opposite Jared Abbrederis is still open.

"I'm just trying to take advantage of that opportunity right now,'' he said.