Oglesby Blocking the Odds

Even though he's gone through six major knee surgeries and hasn't played a 100 percent healthy season since 2008, senior Josh Oglesby has shown through two fall practices that he isn't ready to give up his right tackle position without a fight.

MADISON - Ask University of Wisconsin right tackle Josh Oglesby if he's hungry going into his fifth and final season and the answer doesn't involve overcoming injuries or playing in a championship-type game. Of course, he'll give a quip involving the post-practice buffet.

"Linemen are always hungry," Oglesby cracked.

At 6-7, 330 pounds, Oglesby hasn't missed many meals and hasn't missed many snaps through the first two practices in the second week of Wisconsin's fall camp. After going through the entire practice Monday, Oglesby did much of the same on Tuesday, working with the first-team offense at right tackle through.

It's an impressive feat, considering Oglesby has had six major knee surgeries in his life, torn anterior cruciate ligament in each one and has lost count of how many times each knee has been operated on. But in the heat of a position battle, Oglesby has tightened up the braces and gone to work.

"I just want to show the team and coaches what they've seen in the past is still there, if not better," Oglesby said.

Battling is something Oglesby has done since he was a five-star recruit out of St. Francis High School, despite missing most of his senior year with a torn ACL in his right knee. He started three games due to injury as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and earned the starting right tackle job the next season. Although he missed the final three regular-season games after suffering a left knee injury, Oglesby was roughly seven weeks out of surgery when he played what he called one of his better games in the victory over Miami (Fla.) in the Champs Sports Bowl.

That game raised Oglesby's hopes and expectations heading into last season, but he suffered a partially torn ACL in his left knee in the opening game, lost the starting job to Ricky Wagner in the third game and eventually elected to have more surgery after struggling in the Ohio State game.

"It's been tough, but it's just the nature of the game," Oglesby said. "You tear it up, they fix it and you hope it stays strong. It's tough to have it keeping happening and happening but that's just the type of personality I have to preserve and overcome things like that."

Knowing he was going to have to win his job back this fall, Oglesby said he started a transformation when he was rehabbing during the spring. Changing his diet and switched to healthier habits, Oglesby appears leaner in areas and stronger in others. Close to 100 percent physically, Oglesby's only physical limitation this camp is that he probably won't practice twice on two-a-days.

"I've changed my diet to help get my body ready, and I've tried to do some different things to hopefully put myself to have my most successful season," Oglesby said. "Having the time off that I did really helped me learn other facets of the game and become a student of the game."

It's still early, but it's easy to tell a difference in Oglesby. With Wagner moving to left tackle to take over Gabe Carimi's spot, the battle for right tackle is between Oglesby and redshirt freshman Rob Havenstein.

"I think just my knowledge of the offense gives me an edge just because I have played so many games," said Oglesby, who has played in 28 games while starting 15 in three years. "I think I am competing well. Time will tell, but I think I am holding my own."

Wisconsin looks to have done more than just replace All-Americans Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt off last year's offensive line. In addition to moving Wagner to left tackle, the Badgers insert redshirt sophomore Travis Frederick, who started four games in 2009, back into the lineup. If Oglesby can stay healthy, the offensive line has a chance to equal the success of last year's group.

"We lost two All-Americans, but hopefully we can fill those shoes with two All-Americans," Oglesby said. "It shows that we don't really rebuild our offensive line, we just reload it. That's just the type of motto we have around here with the type of kids we bring in here."

That, and toughness, a trait Oglesby certainly carries the banner for.


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