A New Threat in the Backfield

Wisconsin's running back stable had three players over 995 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Bradie Ewing wasn't one of those contributors, but the senior fullback has his eyes set on contributing in different ways in 2011.

MADISON - Coming from tiny Division 4 Richland Center High to walk on at Wisconsin, Bradie Ewing had the simple goals of getting a degree and contributing to the football team. After next spring, he'll have completed both.

On schedule to graduate with a degree in sociology, Ewing is on schedule to have a big season for Wisconsin in the backfield after getting sidetracked with injuries last season.

Ewing, who was awarded a full scholarship during last year's fall camp, showed his mettle Tuesday, catching a number of one-handed passes along the sideline that went for length gains, a big step for Ewing who had been limited with shoulder stingers in the early parts of camp.

Now that he's healthy, Ewing, who played in all 13 games (three starts) and caught eight passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns last season, appears ready for a breakout season.

After Tuesday's practice, Badger Nation spoke with Ewing about his spring camp and his upcoming season.

Badger Nation: Can you talk about the injuries last year and how they may have affected you from getting into the flow of things? How much of learning experience was it?

Ewing: It was a big learning experience. I came in at the beginning of the year, I had high hopes of being the starter out of the gate and they put in Ryan Groy in there, which motivated me. I got my confidence rocked a little bit. I came out and made some plays as the year went along a little bit. I feel like the second half of the season that I did a little better and had my confidence and the coaches' confidence.

Badger Nation: Most walk-ons take time before coming out and showing their mettle, but you scored a touchdown in your second career game. That said, can you take appreciate that a bad year for you is still a pretty good year considering your path?

Ewing: I think so but I am also never satisfied, whether it's good or bad. Even when people think I do well, I am trying to push myself to get better and I know I can get better.

Badger Nation: You are a competitor, so what's it like getting the green no-contact jersey off?

Ewing: Funny story, I was trying to get out of the jersey with our trainers and I came out to practice one day with the red jersey on. Coach B saw me and made me go down and put on the green one. I definitely want to be out there for those guys, this offense and this team. At the same time, you have to be smart. It's spring ball, and the trainers told me that I could go, so you have to respect that.

Badger Nation: How much have you grown from the Rose Bowl in terms of strength and working with Ben Herbert? How has your progression gone?

Ewing: I think a lot of it is a mindset, being able to flip it on when you hit the field and just sacrifice your body for the offense. On the second note, just working with Coach Herbert and Coach Bott over the offseason was just awesome. I work with the offensive line and tight ends now, so I am like the smallest guy in the group and guys are always pushing me. Just trying to work hard and get better each day by putting in the extra effort and the time.

Badger Nation: It seems you would relish being the smallest guy in a group because you are trying to hold you own against these big guys and improving your strength in the process?

Ewing: Kind of like the underdog role. Some people might not believe in you but as long as you believe in yourself and the guys around you believe you, it's all about what we have going on with this team and this offense.

Badger Nation: You're a senior now. What's it like to be a part of that intimate group and what's your leadership role with this team?

Ewing: I think I am trying to be the guy in the group that plays be example. I want to stay true to myself. I could be a little more vocal, but I want to lead by my actions. There are a lot of seniors that have played a lot of football and that a lot of guys are looking up to.

Badger Nation: What has Coach Thomas Hammock taught you about being a fullback and trying to make that position your own, especially since it wasn't your natural position?

Ewing: He's focused on the position a lot with me. It's all about technique and using your hands, running your feet and making a big emphasis on making an impact. I think it's great. He's never satisfied. Even if you do something good, there is something you can work on. He's motivating us and pushing us to play our best. I want to keep getting better every day and ultimately winning games in the fall, which is what it all boils down to.

Badger Nation: What was it like to get that full scholarship offer last fall camp? What was that moment like to have your hard work be rewarded?

Ewing: It is pretty special. Obviously, it's all about getting on the field and helping the team win, but to have that financial help was incredible to not have to worry about. Out of high school, that's every kid's dream to be that scholarship athlete. My dream was to play here. The coaches made that available through a walk-on opportunity with the ability to earn a scholarship. To have that chip on the shoulder and finally earn it was so rewarding, but you can never be satisfied because every day you have to continue to earn it.

Badger Nation: Does getting the scholarship put pressure on you to have to live up to it, proving to the coaches that they were justified in giving it to you?

Ewing: Yeah, I want to make them proud because that's a big decision on their part. They only get so many scholarships, so I want to prove that they did a good job in giving it to me. It's definitely not my only motivation, but it is a blessing to have.

Badger Nation: Starting the fourth week of spring practice now, what are some things you have accomplished and what are some things you are still trying to work on?

Ewing: I think I have developed more into a pass threat and learning different schemes and route trees from the backfield. I still definitely need to improve on my blocking technique. Coach Hammock is pushing me on that to use my hands more, get my hips down and drive my feet through contact. That's a daily struggle.

Badger Nation: Even though you do your season goals in August, what's one goal you want to make sure is on it?

Ewing: Just take one game at a time, play as a team and take one play at a time. We don't want to take anything for granted.

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