A Nickel for his Troubles

From committing to Wisconsin to joining the team's summer conditioning program in a month's time, sophomore junior college transfer T.J. Reynard is looking to lock down the Badgers' nickel cornerback position.

MADISON - After no scholarship offer tantalized him enough, defensive back T.J. Reynard figured he would be spending this fall playing his final season at Independence Community College in the southeastern part of Kansas.

Now he's entering fall camp in the mix for the starting nickel position for the three time defending Big Ten champions, trying to make sure he keeps his feet under him after rushing around since May.

"Everything was fast paced being a freshman JUCO until now," Reynard said. "I thought I was going to come back, but God has a plan. Just to be here with great teammates and a great coaching staff is pretty good and a great opportunity."

Safeties coach Bill Busch stumbled upon Reynard after calling Independence head coach Steve Carson in regards to players in the 2014 class. When Busch mentioned he was also looking for a corner for the 2013 class to fill out depth in a young secondary, Carson mentioned the 5-11, 175-pound Reynard.

After Busch viewed Reynard's film, the first year coach called Reynard, offered him a scholarship and wanted him to take an official visit.

"At the time Colorado was my number one school," said Reynard. "They were the first people to offer me out of JUCO. Coaching staffs like to tell you all sorts of things, but I really like Coach Busch. He's a great guy."

Reynard committed to Wisconsin shortly after his official visit; setting off a whirlwind. In less than a month he was on campus going through conditioning and speed drills at a whole different pace than he had been accustomed to.

"I just basically have to play my role and trust the guys around me," said Reynard. "I talked to Coach Andersen and he told me not to try and do too much. At Independence I had to do everything. He just wants me to play my game."

Reynard started as a cornerback for Independence in the preseason, but was moved to safety to bolster the team's secondary. Reynard finished 11th in tackles per game, 18th in total tackles and 13th in solo tackles in the NJCAA. He also led his team in total tackles with 88, including 56 solo stops, and had five pass break-ups and two interceptions.

Given UW's need at safety, it was thought Reynard could move and compete for the starting spot. But given the amount of spread offenses Wisconsin is going to face this season in the Big Ten, the coaches decided to keep Reynard at cornerback and develop some depth at the nickel position.

"I'll get adapted and as time progresses I'll get better each day," said Reynard. "I've just got to play my game, especially moving safety to corner. I can't be too aggressive and jump the routes I would jump at safety. I am the last line of defense on the outside, so I just have to play my game.

"Whether it's safety, nickel or corner, I just want to make plays to help my team."

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