The Freshman Fifteen - Riki Kodanko

A three year letterwinner in West De Pere, Riki Kodanko was handcuffed by having to sit out his junior season. He made the most of his senior year, earning All-Conference honors and getting a walk-on opportunity with the Badgers. Badger Nation gets to know Mason a little better in its new series.

MADISON - Standing next to Riki Kodanko and looking straight up, you'd think he'd be better suited for playing with Bo Ryan and the Wisconsin basketball team.

"This is more what I felt would be better for me," Kodanko said with a smile.

The 6-foot-9, 325-pound lineman committed to the Badgers as a preferred walk-on last signing day and helped West De Pere earn its first-ever berth in the WIAA state football finals, falling to Reedsburg in Division 3. What makes him special is his height, as Kodanko, a three-year letterwinner in basketball and honorable mention All-Bay Conference in his first season playing football, is the tallest player to ever play for the Badgers. Time will tell how he fits into the grand scheme of things.

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?

Kodanko: Time management. You've got to get your studies done and get your stuff done with the football team. You have to balance things so you can have time for a social life, too.

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

Kodanko: The speed is probably the thing that hit me the most the first day of camp. It was the hardest thing to get used to but other than that, not so bad. It's a little more physical that high school, but Coach Bostad is a great coach and getting to know him has been helpful.

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

Kodanko: I would have to say lower body. With basketball and playing that seven months out of the year, I was doing more running on the court than conditioning. Now that I am here, it's about getting my lower body where it needs to be. I am starting to hold my own doing one-on-one in pass sets. I was getting knocked over in camp, which was embarrassing, but now it rarely happens.

Can you talk about your recruitment and how you ended up here? Did you have other scholarship options?

Kodanko: I was in a different situation because I had to sit out my junior year of varsity sports because I transferred schools, but I didn't move households. I stayed the same address, so I think I lost my chance to get my name out there. When senior year came around, some of the smaller D2 schools started looking at me. I got letters UCLA, Stanford, Alabama, Minnesota, stuff like that, but nothing went through. Coach Bostad had been talking to me, I had enjoyed talking to him and I love the atmosphere here. It's definitely a football school.

What is your major?

Kodanko: Undecided. I would like to do something in science because that was my strong point throughout high school.

What are you hoping to do after college?

Kodanko: That seems quite a ways away, but I know that it's going to come up fast. I don't know as of yet.

What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?

Kodanko: I enjoy the Memorial Union and Picnic Point. It's got a nice view over the lake and it's nice to ride by on your moped and glance out.

What's your least favorite place on campus?

Kodanko: Probably the dorm for studying. Weekends are great, but getting studies done in the dorm has not worked well. It's been ostracized from my routine until I go to sleep.

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

Kodanko: I like to hang out with my roommate and kids from the floor. We go out and walk around. State Street is always interesting on the weekends to go walk around on. If I am tired, I'll just chill out and play a video game.

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

Kodanko: My favorite TV show is Criminal Minds. I just love movies in general. Any movie I can sit down and watch. Food, just about anything. I am not real picky.

Who do you live with and how is that going?

Kodanko: Jason Hengle. He's a fullback from La Crosse. We haven't butted heads yet, because we have the same personality and are quiet at times.

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

Kodanko: He doesn't come across as being as a quiet guy but if you get him cornered, he'll put his head down and start looking at his phone. Anything to try and avoid contact with people. That's something you wouldn't know because he's always smiling and laughing.

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

Kodanko: I would have to say my parents and my brothers. I have three younger brothers and they look up to me. It's always nice to see them at the games and see how happy they are to see me here.

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?

Kodanko: My dad told me just to take advantage of the opportunity I was given. My mom has been always more of the basketball fan because she played at Green Bay. She's starting to get used to the game of football and said she starting to like it. It's good because she was a little taken aback that I chose football over basketball.

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

Kodanko: Just getting the chance to come here and possibly to play on that field has got to be my number one. That would be great.

Badger Nation Top Stories