Spring Q&A: Dan Voltz

From redshirting last season to being the projected starting center on Wisconsin's offensive line, redshirt freshman Dan Voltz talks about his progress this spring, what he took away from his predecessor and his guaranteed for 2013.

As just a redshirt freshman, you are working as the No.1 center on the offensive line. What's the process you are going through to make this position yours as you go through spring?

Dan Voltz: Last year was a big learning year for me. Being the number two center as a freshman was a good opportunity for me to learn from the older guys and learn under Travis Frederick. Right now I am trying to hone the position and make it my own. I have to learn all the techniques and the calls and become a better leader. I think I have done that pretty well so far.

This is already your second spring camp. What were some of the things you learned last spring that has really carried over to this year to put yourself in position to be a real contributor for this team?

Voltz: I think last year when I came in during the spring I was trying to impress the coaches and show them that I was able to play. This year I am trying to become that starting center that we need. I am trying to be more of a leader and help the other guys out. I want to be more consistent on the field, and I think it's important to step up this spring, be consistent and be a leader.

What were some of the main things you learn from Frederick, another lineman that enrolled early and started a lot of games here before jumping to the NFL?

Voltz: I learned basically how to play the center position by watching him. More mentally than physically, I think. Obviously physically he's probably the best center in the country, and mentally, as well. I tried to take more of the mental side of the game and I think this spring I am far ahead of where I was last spring mentally and physically. At center you have to mentally sharp and smart to know the entire offense. That's been my entire focus this spring and I feel I have done a good job.

You are on your third offensive line coach in two years. What are some of the hard things you've had to deal with during the transition from Mike Markuson to Bart Miller to now T.J. Woods?

Voltz: It's really not that hard changing coaches. When a coach comes to Wisconsin, we're going to still run the ball, still be physical. There might be some terminology differences and some minor technique things, but there really hasn't been much change through the three coaches that have been here.

How have you and Coach Woods gotten along?

Voltz: Coach Woods has really brought a new energy to the offensive line that we're all excited to play for him. There's a new sense of physicalness and nastiness that I think we needed to get back this spring. I feel Coach Woods has brought that back for us.

Plenty of good and bad with your first year in the program, losing six times and the Rose Bowl but still winning a Big Ten championship for the third straight year. What were some of the experiences you take away from last year?

Voltz: I was fortunate to travel with the team last year, which I think was valuable to me. I got to see what it takes to prepare all week long, and to be able to go to a stadium like Penn State and play was a good experience for me to see how the starters handled themselves. Being at the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl was just an incredible experience and I feel that when we go back then again this year I'll be a lot more comfortable, hopefully being in the starting role this time. It'll be just like another game for me because I've been there and experienced it already.

Last year was your first year playing center, so what was the transition like from coming in as a guard to be the quarterback of the offensive line?

Voltz: I played tackle in high school, so I really didn't have to make any calls or snap the ball. When I came here and started learning how to snap the ball, it was a struggle at first just because it's completely different. I felt like I have done a good job and really learn how to play the position. I think this spring has shown that I can be the center.

Your recruiting process probably seems like such a long time ago, but you were the first commit in the 2012 recruiting class and picked Wisconsin early over two dozen other offers. What made you pick them so early in the process?

Voltz: A lot of it had to do with the offensive line tradition. You can't beat the offensive line tradition at Wisconsin across the country. The location to home – I live about two hours away – you can't beat that. The combination of those two things, and great academic school, is why I picked it.

Jack Keeler is your former teammate at Barrington and he'll again be your teammate in the summer when he enrolls here. He said he really relied on you going through his recruiting process. Tell me about your relationship and how you helped him make the right decision for him?

Voltz: Me and Jack are good friends, played on the same offensive line my senior year and he's a great player, so I am excited that we have him. I didn't try to get him to come here. I just gave him information about what I've experienced and told him my experiences. He made the decision by himself and I am just glad he decided to come here.

Spring game is on April 20 and you'll have a big role in that game and the practices leading up to that. What are some of the things you want to do to get yourself ready for the summer and the fall?

Voltz: I think just as an offensive line we need to get sharper and more physical. We have to be perfect everyday and that's what we strive to do every day – strive to get better at one thing and just keep getting better until the spring game.

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