UW Health Sports Medicine 

Better Know a Badger: Kyle Zuleger

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After spending the first three seasons of his Badgers career as a running back, senior Kyle Zuleger was approached by coach Gary Andersen this spring and asked if he'd consider a move to safety to help build depth in the secondary. Zuleger has embraced his new position and has become a jack-of-all-trades for Wisconsin as a leader on special teams, including returning kickoffs.

What was your first reaction when Coach Andersen asked if you'd move from running back to safety this spring?
"It made sense to me. I actually came to Wisconsin as a safety, so I didn't object to it too much. The switch gave me a shot to come in and make some plays, so I just went along with it."

Did the coaching staff do anything to sell you on the move?
"They talked up the new 3-4 defense and everything that goes with it. In the new system, we play a lot of defensive backs on the field at one time. That was a really good selling point."

What was the most difficult aspect of learning your new position?
"Just learning everything that goes into a new defense and switching your mindset from offense to defense is something that takes a little bit of a transition. But, like anything, if you're doing it everyday it naturally comes quicker and quicker."

What aspects of the new 3-4 scheme were the hardest to pick up on?
"There wasn't one specific thing, it was more all-encompassing. It was a lot of understanding where you need to line up, where your assignment is and where your eyes need to be."

You've been returning kickoffs recently. Is that a role that you enjoy?
"It's a lot of fun. Returning kicks in front of 90,000 people is always going to be fun."

You lead all players in special teams tackles this season. What's the key to being an effective special teams player?
"You have to play fast. You can't really think too much on special teams, otherwise you're beat. So you have to play fast."

A lot was made about the youth in the secondary this season. How have you seen that group develop and grow so far this season?
"I think a lot of guys are starting to understand the new defense more and things are starting to become second nature. There is less thinking and more reacting now. There's always cohesion that can be worked on, though. You can never be satisfied with where you are at. You have to come in everyday and work as a defense and as a unit." 

What's been the highlight of your Badger career so far?
"There are a lot of little things, like stuff in the locker room and the friendships and bonds that you make. But, the three Big Ten championships have been a great highlight."

What's your favorite part of game day?
"Winning." 

- Ryan Evans

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