A Jack of All Traits

Ryan Groy provided the opening surprise of the 2010 season when he lined up as a fullback against UNLV. When the Badgers open the season against the Rebels this time, Groy, who spent last season studying under three seniors, could see time at center, proving that he's as versatile as advertise coming out of Middleton High.

MADISON - One of the first committed players in the 2009 recruiting class, Ryan Groy was lauded by head coach Bret Bielema because the Middleton lineman possessed quickness and versatility.

In two seasons in uniforms, Bielema and offensive line coach Bob Bostad had made sure to utilize both to the fullest extent. Groy made his UW debuted in last season's opener at UNLV, but the 6-foot-5, 307-pound lineman did so as a fullback, even getting a new jersey number in the process.

This spring, Groy hasn't gotten the carries, but continues to be thrown new challenges by Bielema and Bostad, as the redshirt sophomore is now being utilized as the second-string center. With some botched snaps over a two practice period, it's still a work in progress.

Groy talks to Badger Nation about the first two weeks of spring football.

Badger Nation: Talk about the switch to center. Did that come about by them asking and volunteering you or did you want to broaden your horizons?

Groy: Coach Bostad brought it to me. My freshman year, I snapped a little bit and had some experience with it, but I didn't play any. Coming into the spring, Coach Bostad brought me up and told me that I better get ready to do some centering and that I should know the plays and stuff. Travis Frederick and I worked together on it, he showed me some stuff and it wasn't too tough. Guard is right next to center, so I knew most of the plays. The big thing was knowing the mike linebacker declarations, and then I was good.

Badger Nation: When you first came here, did you study one position or did you look at all three positions?

Groy: The summer before coming here, I really looked at everything because I didn't know what I would be doing. I didn't look at center much, but I looked at guard and tackle because I played tackle in high school. I never knew I would be playing center. I looked at everything, saw which way the zones were going and where the declarations were. The basic stuff before I could nail everything down.

Badger Nation: Coach Bostad is making you work. Last year he told you to get ready to play fullback and now he's telling you to get ready to play center. You basically are just going where they need.

Groy: I've basically played everything now. I think next is tight end. I think I am already doing quarterback and receiver in the spring game.

Badger Nation: Is that hard for you that you seemingly can't settle in to one position? You are so versatile that they keep moving you different places, but I am sure you want to learn and master one position?

Groy: I think it's nice because once you get settled into one area and somebody goes down and you have to move to that spot, you're in trouble. I think it's nice when the coaches move people around. It starts off a little sloppy when you are trying to knock the rust off. In the end, I think it'll work out.

Badger Nation: What was it like playing that first game for Wisconsin, but not at the position you were recruited at?

Groy: It was fun and definitely a new experience. It wasn't something that I expected. It don't go as well as I expected, but it was a good experience and I learned more of the offense from it. I learned a little more about the game because of it.

Badger Nation: What did you learn exactly? What did you take away from seeing a game from that perspective?

Groy: I think it helps center a lot because once I know, at center, where the fullback is going, I can make my calls off of that. I think it helped me because I knew the fullback was going there, so as a blocker I need to go here. I think it helped me see the whole picture of the offense altogether.

Badger Nation: How has the offensive line dynamic change, if at all, after losing Gabe Carimi, John Moffitt and Bill Nagy and how do you guys approach the next few weeks?

Groy: It's definitely a lot more quiet without Moffitt, that's for sure. It hasn't been too much different though. We still bust our butt in the weight room, we're still a close group and we still have fun with each other. Yes there is competition, but we are each other's buddies. It's not a big deal. You are always working against each other, but it's good competition. There's nothing negative.

Badger Nation: Where do you think you are going to fit into this line position wise?

Groy: I have no idea. If somebody goes down, hopefully I am in. Whatever I can do. I have been working at center, left and right guard. I worked tackle during the winter. I did a lot of sets so if worst case somebody goes down, I can get some reps.

Badger Nation: How was winter conditioning compared to last year's workouts? A lot of players said it was a workman-like attitude where everybody got a lot of good things done.

Groy: I think it was. I think a lot of egos left. I think a lot of guys that aren't really vocal leaders helped define the different pieces to the puzzle. I think we all keep quiet, mind our business and do our work, which is always what the offensive line has been. Last year was a little different, but I think it has been good.

Badger Nation: What were some of the big things you took away from the whole season and not just your stints as a fullback?

Groy: Watching guys like Bill, Gabe and Moff, you learn how to approach a game, how to study a team and study a player. Watching them work on the field was amazing. They had some games where they had no errors, no mistakes and the thing that you can take from it is that you really have to know your offense and your position. It was a good learning point.

Badger Nation: Lastly, what are you hoping to accomplish over the next few weeks and what objectives do you want to achieve by the spring game?

Groy: I want to get the center position down first and foremost. I want to get it where I don't make any errors and I can make all my calls and declarations down. I want to clean up the snaps a little bit. From there, I want to get comfortable with all three interior spots and tackle in case something happens. If somebody goes down, I hope I am in. If not, I am going to just keep learning.


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