"I put too much pressure on myself to be perfect and then dropped balls," said Fredrick. "I lost confidence. It was a mentality thing. I couldn't think or realize what I was doing wrong."
The 6-4, 210-pound Fredrick knew coming into the season there was pressure on his group to have one guy become a suitable mirror to Jared Abbrederis – Wisconsin senior and most experienced wide receiver. Fredrick started to be that player toward the end of the 2012 season.
Entering Wisconsin initially as a linebacker, the Madison native was moved from the deep linebacker group to try his hand as receiver. He finished with 17 catches for 196 yards, even catching his first career touchdown pass in the Rose Bowl. Imagine his disappointment when the lasting impression he made during some early fall practices was dropping one of those big-play passes.
"I'd be catching balls all day and then maybe the last play of the day I'd drop a ball," said Fredrick. "That would stick with me until the next practice. It was just continually like that."
Whatever the reason, a Sunday day off or a stern self-pep talk before the August 12 scrimmage, Fredrick found his niche entering the second week. Asserting himself as one of the team's best receiving weapons, Fredrick has made the consistent catches over the last two weeks of camp.
And with no other receiver stepping up and asserting themselves, Fredrick's play gives him the opportunity to start Saturday's season opener against UMass opposite Abbrederis.
"Curt gave me some throws and Joel gave me some throws and that really built up my confidence," said Fredrick. "(Receivers) Coach (Chris) Beatty knows I can make those plays and it was huge that he was telling me that before the scrimmage. Knowing he has my back gave me a boost."
The next step for Fredrick is to make those "great" catches; the ones where a receiver leaps to catch an overthrown pass or dives one direction to snare a ball before it hits the turf. In order to prepare himself for those opportunities, Fredrick says he's learned every receiver position on the playbook, including Abbrederis, and has perfected his route running to be at the right place to make those plays.
"I want to know where guys could be or are going to be," said Fredrick. "I want to get a little more explosive to I can make those catches."
It also helped that he stalked Abbrederis, by his own admission.
"If he's talking to the quarterback, I would ease over and listen to them," said Fredrick. "In meetings when he's giving the answers or knowing the answers, just listen and try to soak it all up. I try not to be a pest, but at the same time try to get as much as I can from him because he knows what he's doing with all the plays he's making."