Finding his Footing

Recruited fiercely by the Wisconsin coaching staff last summer to play either defensive back or safety, 2011 commit Jordan Fredrick has come from right down the street to make an impact in his first fall camp ... at the wide receiver position.

MADISON – It's a tradition of Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema to put the freshman on the spot during the team's first meeting of the fall season, asking the wide-eyed group at the back of the room to stand up, state their name, home town and position. Imagine the awkward looks Jordan Fredrick received when he stood up and said ‘linebacker or wide receiver.'

"Everyone was looking at me like, ‘How do you not know?'" Fredrick said. "It was pretty awkward."

Most of Fredrick's accolades came from his work as a defender, including being named the conference's outside linebacker of the year, last season at Madison Memorial HS and was recruited as a linebacker or safety after he earned his UW offer following the school's summer camp. When he made the 10-minute visit to campus this past spring, there was talk of him possibly moving to wide receiver.

When the option was presented to him by Bielema, the wheels starting turning in Fredrick's mind of where his best opportunity was.

"Coming in, it was pretty much my decision of where I wanted to start," Fredrick said. "I would have played anywhere that they wanted me to play. I know we are stacked at linebacker but had a lot of young guys at receiver, so there was a good chance of me doing something there."

The move has turned out for the best so far. Working mostly with the second-team offense and some with the first-team offense, Fredrick has been getting plenty of meaningful repetitions. At 6-3, Fredrick is getting every chance to prove himself in an offense that returns only one player with 20-or-more receptions.

"It's been surprising coming in because you just want to make a name for yourself," said Fredrick, who worked with the receivers throughout the summer. "You just have to work hard and getting the chance to get in there with the big boys, it's not easy to try to prove yourself with the competition out here. I think I am doing all right, but it's a lot harder when your body is getting worn down."

It's harder, too, when you are rendered speechless. After the first weekend of camp, Fredrick came down with a virus that affected his vocal cords, a 102-degree fever and came down with a sinus infection that caused him to miss time during the second week of practice.

"Nate Tice was calling me the godfather because of my voice," Fredrick said.

Just as Fredrick was getting back to full strength, the injury bug hit his teammates. Suddenly, Wisconsin was down two, sometimes three, receivers and needed Fredrick to step in for repetitions. Working with the first and second-team offense, the freshman has had his bumps, but has shown flashes and natural ability that even his upperclassman quarterback is impressed with.

"He attacks the ball, which is a really positive thing, especially for a freshman," senior quarterback Russell Wilson. "He loves to learn and work hard. It's great to see him go up and catch the ball. He just has to keep working. I am excited for him."

Although he stood out on defense, playing wide receiver isn't a foreign concept to Fredrick. Over his high school career, Fredrick caught 113 passes for 1,216 yards and 15 touchdowns to go along with his 163 tackles and 14 interceptions on defense. Fredrick also had the slight advantage of knowing multiple defensive positions, having playing safety throughout his career and having learned the linebacker role just this past year.

It's allowed him to have a broader football I.Q., a little bit more physicality and a chance to be on the field when Wisconsin opens the season in nine days.

"Jordan Fredrick isn't afraid of anybody," Bielema said. "We put him in two drills yesterday and I saw him take on Mike Taylor hand to hand and beat him on an inside move. I think of all the freshmen coming on, Jordan is the guy."

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