Learning the Curve

One of the prized pupils in the 2012 recruiting class, offensive lineman Dan Voltz couldn't wait to get to campus and get to work. What he's done through four weeks of spring practice have people excited for his future in the interior of UW's offensive line.

MADISON - He could be stuck in seventh or eighth period or trying to figure out who he is going to ask to prom but Dan Voltz understood that when he committed to a football program, he was committed to a job and a future.

So when he chose to commit to the University of Wisconsin, there was no debate that Voltz wanted to enroll early so he could start building his knowledge of the playbook, the college experience and getting adjusted to the speed of the game. He's only a handful of practices in to his college career, but Voltz is providing needed depth at center and left guard.

Talking to Badger Nation, Voltz talks about the college learning curve, learning the center position and what he has gleaned from upperclassmen like Travis Frederick.

Talk to me about jumping right into Big Ten spring football from the high school level. How was your first couple weeks of learning on the fly?

Voltz: Obviously each day I am learning, so each night I am reflecting on the practice I had that day. Having a week off was pretty good so I could settle down a little bit and recognize what I had to work on the final three weeks of spring.

Has it been easy to jump into the playbook or has the playbook something that you really have had to take your time with?

Voltz: It hasn't been too bad. The coaches have put together a real nice play book. It's pretty simple, but there are a lot of terms you need to learn. Coming into any new offense, it just takes time and you have to get reps. It hasn't been too overwhelming at all.

Mike Markuson – your OL coach – says he wants guys to improve a percent a day just to get better every day. Do you feel you have done that after coming in with your eyes wide open?

Voltz: There are so many little things, so many little nuisances that you have to work on in your game. I feel like every day I pick up something new, especially playing center. You need to know the whole offense, you need to be making the calls and you have to have good footwork. Each day you have to pick out something for you to work on and you have to fix that each day. If you don't do that, you'll fall behind, so I feel like every day I am working on something new and hopefully moving on to another area of my game.

You said at signing day that you were primarily going to be working at guard, so when did the staff approach you about getting reps at center? Did that catch you off guard?

Voltz: As soon as I got here, they told me that I would be getting reps at center, but they didn't tell me that I was going to be working primarily at center. Now I am working at center and left guard, so I can fill it at both spots if I need to. Right now center is my main focus. I am really focusing on that (center) position with a little left guard thrown in, too.

It's not fair to compare you to him, but your position role sounds a lot like Travis Frederick. Can you talk about learning from an intelligent guy like that and how he has helped you progress?

Voltz: He knows everything. He could probably play tackle, too. He is that good and he knows everything. He is talented. I am just trying to learn everything I can from him. He pretty much does everything right. You watch him and you'll hardly see him mess up. Even when I am not playing, be able to watch him, watch what he does, watch his footwork and listen to him make his calls, it really helps me.

You say you try to learn something every day, so what have you learned in the last week that is going to help you going forward?

Voltz: The one thing I felt like I improved on were making my calls – calling the fronts, calling the mike linebacker. I felt really solid on all of that. I've felt really comfortable and more calm when I walk up to the line instead of being all hectic and stuff. One thing I know I need to work on is my steps. You have to work on that every day.

What was winter conditioning like for you and going through that program? How much did that help you get ready for spring practices?

Voltz: The weight room aspect of this program is just as important as any on-field stuff that you'll do. Everything you do in the weight room translates to something you are going to do on the field. Whether it be squats, bench or hang clean, you can apply that to blocking on the field. Linemen work with Coach Bott and everything we do correlates to something we do on the field. I really took the offseason seriously, knowing that I was going to get some reps and I got stronger. I put on a lot of weight, so it's helped a lot.

In three months, how has your body changed by working the program?

Voltz: Weight wise, I've put on 26 pounds. I've got stronger with all my lifts and I feel good. I don't' feel heavier than what I weighed here coming in and I feel light on my feet. The strength staff did a great job. I weighed in at 296, and I don't notice it. I feel more confident in myself and stronger. If I was 270, I probably couldn't block some of the guys I am going against now.

What's your class schedule like?

Voltz: I am taking 14 credits right now, so it's about as full as it gets. It's been challenging, but I have settled into it pretty fast. You have to stay focused, but I feel like I have done pretty well so far.

Is it hard balancing a full class schedule with a full workout, meeting and practice schedule? Have you found that balance?

Voltz: It's a full time job and you have to find the balance. If you don't, you'll get lost and you'll fall far behind in a couple days. Luckily I found it pretty quick. I take school work seriously and recognize that you don't have a lot of free time when you play football. You have to dedicate yourself to what you are here for, which is football and school. If you do that, you'll be successful.

I know this is what I want to do and this is going to be the next four or five years of my life. I realized that my junior year of high school, so it was a pretty easy decision to come up here early. When I got here, I was pretty much right on track.

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