The tight end tradition at Wisconsin is well-documented as the Badgers have sent numerous players at that position to the NFL. UW again boasts a promising crop of tight ends this season, including junior Sam Arneson, who hopes to put his name among Wisconsin's historic list of standouts at his position. Arneson, a Merrill, Wis., native, has two catches for 17 yards this season.
Your dad, Dave Arneson, played football at Wisconsin in the 1980s. What does it mean to you to be able to follow in his footsteps and wear the Cardinal and White?
"It means a lot. Like every other kid in Wisconsin I grew up as a huge Badgers fan. With my dad being a former player and my mom having gone to school here, I grew up coming to Madison all the time. I have been going to games since I was 4 years old. I've always had the dream of being a Badger and I worked hard and was fortunate and lucky and be able to come here and follow in my father's footsteps."
What has been the highlight of your Badgers career so far?
"There have been so many cool moments that I've been fortunate to have. I've been able to be a part of two straight Big Ten championship teams. Obviously scoring a touchdown in last year's Big Ten championship game was pretty darn cool. The Rose Bowl is always a special event. Not many guys get a chance to play in a game like that, so going out there twice was very special."
Offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig has said he feels like his has four tight ends that he is confident in. How does that level of depth at your position help the offense?
"You've seen us use three tight ends on the field at a time this season, which has been awesome. You've seen us be able to rotate guys in and out if someone is tired or nicked up or something. We have so much depth at tight end that we're all ready to step up and not miss a beat. That is great to have. We also have so much experience at the position with three fifth-year seniors and myself, a junior. Tight ends have really been a strength for our offense so far and we're going to continue to try and get better and keep building that."
Wisconsin has produced a number of NFL tight ends in recent years. It's had both blocking-type players, like Jake Byrne, and noted pass-catchers, like Owen Daniels and Lance Kendricks, latch on with NFL teams. What type of tight end do you see yourself as?
"I see myself as a mix. I wouldn't say one or the other. Somebody who was here recently and did both, like me, is Garrett Graham. That's somewhat the style that I play. They'll line me up as the Y, but they can also split me out wide. That's the key, to be versatile, that way they can use me at any time. One of my first coaches always said, 'don't limit yourself, be able to do both.' So I've really worked on being able to both block and catch passes and I think that has helped me see the field as much as I could."
What has the new coaching staff brought to the offense this season?
"The offense hasn't changed too much. We're back to, even more, stressing the details again. There is more of an emphasis on all the little things, all the time. That's what's going to make us a good team. When you're tired, focusing on the little things and making them happen is what will make us a successful team."
The defense has gotten off to a strong start this season. What challenges to they pose to the offense in practice?
"You can't get much stronger than back-to-back shutouts. We went against them all spring all fall and that defense is a son of a gun to go against. That 3-4 (formation) presents some things that you don't see that often. Most of the Big Ten teams are 4-3 teams, so you're not used to seeing it and also, we have some good players on our defense. They play hard and are well-coached, so I can see why they've been successful so far and I expect them to keep it up."
- Ryan Evans