The Freshman Fifteen - Leo Musso

The last in-state player to commit to the 2012 recruiting class, former Waunakee captain Leo Musso was a first-team all-star running back, who lead his team to three straight division two state championships. Now he's looking to be a leader on defense. Badger Nation gets to know the freshman safety a little better in our popular feature.

MADISON - Every time someone told former Waunakee High tailback Leo Musso that he was too small to compete in the Big Ten, he would just nod his name and put that away in his memory bank. For a player that always showed a lot of fight on the football field, it might have been the motivation that pushed him over the edge.

Rushing for 5,531 yards and 87 touchdowns (93 total touchdowns) in his career, Musso led his team to a third straight Division 2 state championship as a senior, earning first-team all-state by Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and AP and unanimous first-team all-conference honors in the process. It wasn't until after those achievements the offers started rolling in.

Originally accepted a grayshirt offer from Wisconsin over a full offer from Northern Illinois Pittsburgh, Musso was eventually bumped up a full offer and is spending his redshirt season learning a new position at safety along with enjoy the journey ahead.

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?

Musso: I came in the day after I graduated and I had to start cooking for myself. Being away from my family, who I saw every day with my mom and little brother, was a little adjustment. I think I got used to that. I've adjusted pretty well to that.

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

Musso: There's tons of great players here and a ton of great players throughout the Big Ten. I learn from these guys every day and from the guys I got recruited with and former Waunakee players like Austin Maly. I think they mentally prepared me to let me know what to expect. I try to physically prepare as well as I could. It's a big jump. The competition, the speed and the level of smartness is all great here.

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

Musso: I can definitely feel a difference. I feel like I got a lot stronger on my bench press. I just started squatting at the beginning of the summer because I had patella tendinitis from about two years ago. After my senior season, I started to take it easy and my trainer advised me that I shouldn't squat or do anything to strain that. I went that many months after football until I got here without squatting. I am getting my leg strength back up.

What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?

Musso: Personally, I think I have to build everywhere. Changing positions to safety is a huge jump for me. Basically I have to improve by watching film and what to write down. Just the mental aspect of the game is huge because you are basically the quarterback of the defense. Knowing all the play calls and formations is key. Being an offensive guy in high school, I kind of understand some formations, but there is still a ton I need to improve on.

How is Madison different than your home town of Waunakee? What's the biggest difference?

Musso: Just the size. It's only about 15 minutes away but it seems like worlds away. It's nice to be able to sneak home once in awhile because I am so close.

Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?

Musso: I am thinking about kinesiology. I want to do something along the line of sports or sports training. Maybe have a business where I can train kids and be an advocate for them.

What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?

Musso: The spot I can think of is the Memorial Union. It's nice and relaxing. When we lived in the Regent, me and a couple buddies would go up on the roof and just relax there and overlook Madison. Obviously Camp Randall is a great spot, too.

What's your least favorite place on campus?

Musso: No. I love this city. There is nothing bad about it.

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

Musso: When I get my free time, I enjoy resting. Being so close, I like to take my mom and my little brother out to eat. Just little things like that.

Who do you live with during the summer and who are you going to live with this fall? How are those relationships?

Musso: I lived with Vince Biegel during the summer and actually living with a golfer this fall. Because I found out a month before fall camp I was on full scholarship, they had to pull some strings to get me situated. Vince was real cool. He's a great guy and it was pretty fun.

What's the most interesting thing you've learn about Vince?

Musso: I think the biggest thing is that he's an avid sleep walker. He'll wake up in the middle of the night and scream or talk to himself. There were multiple nights throughout the week where he'd wake me up, have a conversation with him and finally say ‘screw it' and go back to bed. There was one time we were in the room with Arthur Goldberg and Jake Meador and Vince was talking a nap, woke up and was super concerned about what time it was. He ran out the door and stubbed his toe on the door. Incidences like that made him pretty fun to have as a roommate.

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

Musso: It's everybody. I can rely on my teammates for anything. If I am ever having problems, the guys on the team would be more than willing to help me out. My family is there and always super supportive for me. I always like spending my free time with them.

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?

Musso: It was a funny story how it happened. We were at a football banquet and coach Bret Bielema called me before the banquet. I called him back after the banquet and it was my mom, my head coach and a couple of my good friends when I was talking to him on the phone. I gave them the thumbs up and everyone was super excited. It was a humbling experience.

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

Musso: it's tough to put into words. It's really humbling. It's really an honor. Great players have come before me and are playing now, and we all take great pride in wearing this jersey. Being from Wisconsin and playing for the in-state school, it means that much more knowing your home state is backing you. It comes with great pride.

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