The Freshman Fifteen - Austin Traylor

One of three tight ends in the 2011 recruiting class, this weekend's matchup has special meaning to Columbus, Ohio, native Austin Traylor, who has been preparing Wisconsin all season for opposing offenses. Badger Nation gets to know the freshman tight end a little better in our popular feature.

MADISON - Heading down to Ohio to watch Wisconsin verbal commit Austin Traylor on the basketball court, head coach Bret Bielema knew what kind of football player he was getting.

Honored as all-city, all-district, all-metro, all-state player after totaling 639 receiving yards and four touchdowns along with 99 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior, Traylor was a stud on the football court, but Bielema had no clue what kind of all-around athlete he was getting.

"When I was there he was able to pull up on the Internet a slam-dunk competition he just won," Bielema said of Traylor, a standout basketball player that was a two-time team captain and winner of the Columbus County Slam Dunk Contest. "He's an extremely athletic kid that has done things right."

Picking Wisconsin over Michigan, Arizona, West Virginia and Cincinnati, Traylor has grown into the H-back position for the Badgers throughout scout team work, showing strength, size and agility that will provide valuable production in the future.

"He's been doing well in the weight room," said tight end coach Joe Rudolph, who also recruited Traylor. "The interesting thing is you look at birth dates, when kids are reaching their graduation, Austin is a guy that just turned 18 in September. He's made some big strides since he's been here. He's doing a good job on the field. He's physical, which is good. You can definitely build on that."

In the return of our popular 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?

Traylor: You just have to manage your own time. It's not like you are school all day or your mom is going to wake you up. You have to know when I can get a rest in between classes or do some work or get a nap. Time management is the biggest thing because you have space and gaps and you have to make use of all of them.

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

Traylor: The hardest part probably is filling my role. Coming in and having to shift roles from high school. The speed hasn't been a bad thing with the strength and conditioning we have. As I put on weight, it will come more naturally for me. Right now, it's more mentally than physical because you gain speed and strength by working out.

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

Traylor: It feels a lot stronger. I have gained 25 pounds since I have been up here. Actually, I feel a lot more confident. I knew I was light and me gaining weight has built confidence in me.

How is living in Madison different than your home town of Columbus, Ohio? What's the biggest difference?

Traylor: Neighborhood. I know everybody (at home) I could walk up the street at Walnut Ridge and see 20 people I know going to school two blocks. Here I am kind of a stranger to everybody, so I have to get used to meeting people and knew things.

What is your major?

Traylor: I haven't decided yet.

What are you hoping to do after college?

Traylor: Honestly, I don't know. I am taking some introduction to engineering classes, so I am just trying stuff out for now.

What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?

Traylor: My dorm room. In my free time, I just like hanging out in my dorm room on my laptop.

What's your least favorite place on campus?

Traylor: Bascom Hill. Having to walk up that every day isn't fun.

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

Traylor: Honestly, my free time I am either asleep, working on homework or calling my family back home. Those are pretty much my three main things.

Who do you live with and how is that going?

Traylor: Ray Ball and it's pretty cool. He's from Columbus. I didn't know him personally before coming up here, but I have known some of his family my whole life. He's a pretty cool dude.

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

Traylor: I don't know. He's very observative. He recognizes a lot of things a lot of normal, average person wouldn't pay attention to or point out.

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

Traylor: A lot of the freshmen class talk to together and point out different things, Coach Rudolph pulls me aside a lot and talks to me a lot to see how things are going and calling home and talking to the family is big. They keep in touch with me, even when I don't call, so that means a lot.

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?

Traylor: My mom was very excited. She left the decision in my hands. She didn't really care where I went. She was excited for me to get the opportunity to play division 1 football. She supported me in everything I did. She took me around on the officials and on my unofficial visits.

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

Traylor: Honestly, my greatest accomplishment would be the high school I chose. I had a lot of different options. I wanted to play basketball out of middle school and I could have went to Columbus North or Columbus East or a bigger school known more sports, period. I chose my home school and I never regret that.

What's the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey?

Traylor: It's very exciting. Coming from Walnut Ridge and maybe 1,000 fans to 80,000 people and knowing that I am a part of something amazing, it pushes me. It motivated me because I want to be on the field one day playing in front of those people.

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