The Freshman Fifteen - Joe McNamara

A once forgotten center from Florida, Joe McNamara has recovered from an ACL tear and another school throwing him to the curb. After a change of positions, McNamara is ready prove that he has all the intangibles of being a solid, sturdy defensive tackle. Badger Nation gets to know McNamara a little better in its new series.

MADISON - A man that values his academics and his football, Joe McNamara could not have been more excited to be verbally committed to Stanford as a center. That was before his knee buckles, the Cardinal conveniently stopped returning his phone calls and he de-committed from a place he felt was the perfect situation.

Months later, McNamara has found a new home and a new position, two facts that make Wisconsin so special to him.

"Nobody saw me on the defensive side and that's one of the cool things about this place," McNamara said. "They think outside the box. Wisconsin was the only school that came in and thought they could take this offensive player, move him to a defense and have him help them win games. That's awesome, man."

Medically cleared in the beginning of May, McNamara may have missed wrestling season, but he has gotten his body to where he is a viable candidate to contribute next season at the defensive tackle position.

In a new series for subscribers, Badger Nation does a meet and greet with the newer members of the Wisconsin football team, shedding a light on some of the unknown kids that figure to be important parts of the Badgers' future.

Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.

What's been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?

McNamara: I would probably would have to say as a college student, you have chunks of time everywhere. In high school, you went from 7:30 to 2:30 p.m. every day with no exceptions. In college, they put a lot of things on you, but you get a lot of extra free time. It's really just a time management thing.

What's been the hardest part adjusting to college football?

McNamara: The speed. Hands down, college football is way faster than high school.

Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?

McNamara: Definitely started with the knee. I had a goal this summer to get back as much motion as I could, get back to moving and running well. The guys that run the strength program are awesome and definitely know their stuff. They took me from a 285 pound incoming freshman to a 300-pound guy just by getting into the weight room and running. I see the results. I feel better, lighter and faster, and it's all because of them.

How is Madison different than your home town of Weston, Florida? What's the biggest difference?

McNamara: There's no beaches here, man! Besides that, people are a lot more friendly here. They will look you in the eye and shake your hand. When people asked how you are doing, they really mean ‘how are you doing?' and are ready to talk. In Florida, it's all hustle and bustle, you try to stay out of there way, they try to stay out of your way. It's go-go-go but at the same time, Madison is a little piece of Florida in the Midwest. You have the city life, everything that Florida has, but it has the Midwest side with the good-hearted people and the fans that show up for the football games. We don't get that in Florida.

What is your major?

McNamara: I am looking to study kinesiology.

What are you hoping to do after college?

McNamara: I am hoping to stay close to the sports arena. I am thinking maybe practicing physical therapy and working with high school athletes. Helping them through the same thing I went through because I don't want anybody to have to go through what I went through.

What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?

McNamara: I don't know. The top of Bascom Hill is real nice to sit down and let your mind go. I spend the most of my time at Camp Randall, so this feels the most like home out of any place on campus.

What's your least favorite place on campus?

McNamara: It would have to be the Humanities building. They need to paint that thing, man.

What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?

McNamara: Catching up with friends, I spend time talking to my family, trying to get some studying in and if it's a tough day or a tough day ahead, I am hitting the sack.

What music do you like to listen to, what TV shows do you like to watch and what food do you like to eat?

McNamara: Music, you'd be surprised. I like all genres as long as I can understand what they are saying and it's not a repetitive song. I am a huge True Blood, Entourage and Burn Notice fan for TV shows. I like any movie with Will Ferrell in it. I'd take a comedy over a scary movie any day. I like eating anything I don't have to cook.

Who do you live with and how is that going?

McNamara: I am living with Bryce Gilbert. It's going good. He's a great guy, we pretty much meshed from the beginning and we play the same positions, so it's a mutual thing.

What's the most interesting thing you've learn about him since you starting living with him?

McNamara: He snores … a lot. Really lot. It doesn't bother me once I get to sleep.

Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?

McNamara: Definitely my family plays a huge role in my support. At the same time, I have a family up here, too. My teammates, especially the upperclassmen, are looking after us, making sure we are staying out of trouble. The coaches are great, too. Their doors are always open and you can talk to them about anything.

What's your parents reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?

McNamara: Pops is great. He loved it. My mom was excited. She just wanted to make sure I was going to the right school. She came up and, I think, felt this was the right place for me.

It doesn't have to be football related, but what do you feel has been the greatest accomplishment of your life?

McNamara: Thinking about it, getting the chance to go down to Haiti and be able to build schools, houses and churches for people. I think that's bigger than anything I can ever do. I have been down there the last three summers, but didn't get a chance to go this year. I am looking forward to going back.

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