Rob Wheelwright: Yeah, there's the little pressure, but it's a jersey number that I am still earning. I like that. I don't want to live up to him, but I want to use him as motivation. This was a guy who was great here. Being me, I want to be the same, so it was something I wanted to do knowing the best receiver had number four.
You didn't play a lot in the offense last year but head coach Gary Andersen said you probably benefited a lot from not redshirting by doing game prep and traveling with the team. Do you agree with that?
Wheelwright: Yeah, I do. Just being around the guys and the guys who weren't playing a lot, sometimes getting a few snaps on the field and playing special teams, helped a lot. Now I know how the atmosphere is going to be.
What was the biggest thing you took away from last year to be able to play in some games, but really watch and study the guys?
Wheelwright: Just learning and taking a lot of advice and all the help they were giving me. I put that in my memory bank. Just watching Abby was an experience. He is a great route runner, and that's something I want to strive to be.
Compare yourself right now to last year, how different are your routes in terms of how you run them after watching Abbrederis for a full season?
Wheelwright: I'm more patient, just knowing I have more time than I think. Just being more patient at the line and really working my routes instead of just trying to get to the spot as fast as I can.
What's the big stride you think you have made since the end of the season in terms of the weight room, film study and all the little things people don't see behind the scenes?
Wheelwright: Just learning the game. Learning different ways how I can make myself better. Learning how to set up defenders to make them think that I'm doing something different. That's one thing I just continue to work on, changing up my style of play so defenders doesn't catch me.
Since you missed time during the spring, what are some of the things you are aiming to work on during the summer before fall camp?
Wheelwright: Consistency. Just being consistent. I want to go out and catch the ball and make plays. I am just trying to be patient and going out there and making plays. That's one thing Coach Beatty is tells me all the time, just make plays. Just play your game and catch the ball, because you know you can.
How do you evaluate the wide receivers as a group right now?
Wheelwright: We're just working. We're just out there trying to get better, better ourselves and get ready for fall camp.
How do you evaluate how your group did last year?
Wheelwright: We did good. A lot of people overlooked our wide receiver corps, but there were a lot of times Abbrederis wasn't out there and we still threw the ball, although not as much. I feel like we did good. We have some pretty good receivers and I like to think we had some of the fewest drops in the Big Ten.
How good were you at downfield blocking before you got here and then after watching what Abbrederis and Jordan Fredrick did last year, how much of an emphasis did you put on blocking in your game?
Wheelwright: A lot. In high school, it was all about blocking the guy in front of you. By then, our quarterback would be out in front. Seeing how hard Jordan Fredrick goes for a block just inspired me to go as hard as he does. You have to get pretty good at blocking because we run the ball so much.
Do you feel you are better equipped to make a run at the rotation this year?
Wheelwright: For sure, and that's something I have been waiting for. I've been waiting for my time. I knew last year wasn't going to be my time, but this year will be my time.