Jordan Fredrick: It's definitely been a learning process. I feel like this year I am going back and forth over ‘Z' and ‘X' this spring, and that's the biggest thing as learning this offense as a whole instead of trying to major in one position. Last year I focused on ‘Z' and tried to major in experience. Now I am trying to broaden out and do multiple things to get on the field. No matter what receiver position I play - obviously Jared Abbrederis is going to be out on the field because he's a great player - it's just about learning and finding my role.
The biggest challenge for you last year was adjusting to your role just playing wide receiver, considering you played both ways in high school and originally came here as a linebacker. How much comfortable are you now having played last year?
Fredrick: I am really comfortable, especially with everything Coach Azzanni taught us. He was really hard on technique, just learning the game and getting really deep on learning everything. That was the biggest thing so now I can come out here and not worry about seeing things. I can focus on increasing my technique personally and individually get better.
In your first year playing, what is a successful year or did you expect more out of yourself?
Fredrick: When you play in the Big Ten as a freshman, that's successful right away but individually and how the season turned out, I wanted more. It didn't turn out exactly how I viewed from the first game to the end of the season. There were so many learning points and knowing that I had three more years to build from it, it's a lot more comfortable being out there. From last year's standpoint watching it and thinking about it, it wasn't the greatest memories with how it turned out.
The wide receivers group took a beating in the court of public opinion last season. How frustrated were you guys as a group last season?
Fredrick: Being a local guy, you see the media and you hear the outside voices of what they were saying. I knew exactly what was being said, and we as a wideout group didn't exactly agree with that. Obviously from the past and all the great wideouts, we didn't live up to that at all. That's just a fact, but we did so many other things that went unnoticed.
With our blocking, it felt like we had eight or nine linemen out there instead of two wideouts being lazy out there. We block as hard as we can and probably give the most effort at wideout. That didn't always carry over to the passing game. Jared did his best to do what he could to carry the team, but there were times when the younger wideouts didn't make plays when we needed to. There were also times when we did make plays, maybe only one or two a game, that mattered, but you obviously want more.
Hearing what people say is a motivator. That's the biggest thing. We don't want to hear that again. We know what people are saying going into the season again with us having the same guys and not being too excited again. We can grow. We are such a young corps. We have always great experience at wideouts and we built so much from last year with what we know and what we need to do. It's going to be a good turnout this year.
You mentioned you have been working a lot on technique with the ‘X' and the ‘Z,' but how have you improved in the weight room to get your body prepared for the season and the physical corners you'll face?
Fredrick: This winter I tried to focus on trimming down. Not exactly losing a lot of weight, but putting good weight on. It's a lot easier just being on your own and being able to eat right and learning a lot from what Coach Herbert taught us the past few years of getting our body right. I am trying to get stronger, obviously, and with how big I am and how physical I try to play will carry along with trying to add steps to my game. Whether it's speed, quickness or physically, those are things we'll need this year. That's the way I tried to play last year and it didn't always work. I am trying to build a whole wideout individually that will work in different situations.
What has been the transition from Azzanni to Coach Chris Beatty? What has Beatty taught you to help you build off the foundation that Azzanni left?
Fredrick: That's the biggest thing with having three different coaches the past three years, you learn something different each year. Coaches coach different ways all the time. Coach Z broke us down to not knowing football, making it seem like it was our first year out there and just building us from scratch. Technique was all we cared about and tried to get better technique-wise. It people watch on film, we look decent on a route, but you could almost always pick something out that was wrong. This year we're trying to take that technique, build from that and learn the game because Coach Beatty is teaching us a lot of the game. We got a lot of experience last year, finally, so he doesn't need to teach us the early stage things as much as build from that. He's trying to make bigger, more compete wide receivers.
How much better is this group this year with a year of experience under your belts? Can you tell there is a substantial difference with this group now?
Fredrick: Oh yeah. We have so much more confidence this spring. This spring is all about knowing what we need to get better at for the fall, especially with new coaches. You can see it with the way we play. We have more swagger and confidence because we know what we're doing now. We're not rookies now that haven't played in a Big Ten game. That's the biggest thing and we have to carry that over into the fall and the season. Hopefully we won't see many rookies out there this fall, do some big plays and take the pressure off Jared.
Where are the some strides you want to make in the final week to get yourself in a good spot heading into the summer?
Fredrick: I've got to make those plays that are border line; the plays that not everyone makes. Everyone can always catch an easy pass that's right in your chest. It's about those plays that when you are contested that are the difficult plays, and that's the thing last year in fall camp that separated me at times to get me the spot where I got to play. I feel like this spring early on I didn't necessary do that with these new coaches, so they haven't seen it consistently. Just consistently making some plays that are always difficult will be good in the coaches' eyes.