Jan. 27, 2010
With National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 3, UWBadgers.com is reflecting on last season’s Signing Day, focusing specifically on five true freshmen that made an impact on the field during the 2009 season. Today is the first of the five-part series and features offensive lineman Travis Frederick.
MADISON, Wis. -- Last season’s Signing Day featured head coach Bret Bielema in his office receiving letters of intent from high school players from all over the country. Once all pieces were in order, Bielema held a press conference to announce all the new recruits, complete with video highlights to accompany each one. Bielema could do one better though for Travis Frederick. While the highlights showcased his ability on the field, Frederick, native of Sharon, Wis., stood in the back of the press conference and soaked it all in.
An early enrollee, Frederick graduated from Big Foot high school last winter in order to enroll for the 2009 spring semester at Wisconsin. This enabled him to jumpstart his Badger career and participate in spring practices.
“Signing day was kind of different for me since I came in early,” Frederick said. “I actually signed my scholarship the day that I got here in January of last year. In February we [Frederick along with fellow early enrollees David Gilbert, Jordan Kohout and Jon Budmayr] got to go to the press conference that’s held every year. It turned out really well, and it was nice to get to see the film highlights and clips of everybody. It was the culmination of the class coming in, and it was exciting to see the guys that are going to make a winning program here.”
Participating in spring practice proved to be a huge benefit in Frederick’s eyes.
“For me to be here and learn the plays and the offense and things like that, it gave me a chance to come in during fall camp and actually contribute and actually play,” he said. “It contributed a lot to what I’ve done this year, in starting the first two games and starting the last game. I don’t think I would have been able to do it had I not come in early.”
That first step on to the practice field had him feeling excited but also intimidated.
“It’s such a big thing to be here,” Frederick explained. “There’s a lot of history and a lot of people that are relying on you. It’s not just playing football anymore. It’s carrying the weight of the Badger nation on your back. That was very big and intimidating, but throughout practice and throughout camp it really slows down and you can get into the game and get into running the play and just doing what you do.”
One of the biggest adjustments that Frederick had to make was to keep up with the speed of the game. It led to troubles early on, but he adjusted quickly and ended up starting four of the five games he played in during the 2009 season.
“High school and college are completely different,” he said. “The first practice I came out here and went in with the twos and I heard the first play call, didn’t hear the call because I had no idea what was coming, and went in there and messed it up, obviously. I had no idea what was going on. The speed and how fast everyone was off the ball and in your face, really makes the difference.”
Unsure as to what the season would hold, Frederick kept his expectations reasonable.
“I just wanted to go out and make progress when I could and be the best that I could,” he said. “I didn’t try to have expectations for myself as far as starting this many games or doing this. I want to be a starter and contributor, but I also want the team to do what is best. If that’s not me in there, then it’s not me.”
Injuries along the offensive line during fall camp thrust Frederick into the spotlight and it was indeed him lined up at center for the Badgers’ season opener against Northern Illinois. With the start, he became the first true freshman in school history to start on the offensive line in a season opener.
“I was excited for that game because there was so much build-up to it,” Frederick noted. “Camp is such an intense time that everything goes away. It’s just football and you’re ready for that first game because you’ve been building for it for four weeks. I think camp really prepared in getting ready for that first game. I was just really excited to get out there and get the season going.”
Frederick admits to being nervous before the game, but an 80-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien to Isaac Anderson on Wisconsin’s first offensive play of the season quelled those butterflies.
“After that long deep throw down the sidelines to Isaac, I think [the nervousness] all went away and it just became me doing my job,” Frederick said. “I think it’s been that way since then.”
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