Spring Q&A: Austin Traylor

Graduating three senior tight ends from a season ago, junior Austin Traylor went to great lengths to expand his game this past offseason to put himself in position to contribute for Wisconsin in the fall.

Why kind of goals did you have coming into the spring?

Austin Traylor: During the spring, I wanted to get myself in position to contribute to the team from the start. I want to help this team win some games in the fall.

Where do you feel you progressed during spring practices? It looked like you were catching the ball more consistently and you improved your route running from last season?

Traylor: I feel like everything has improved and is different than the fall. I have to be the guy who has to come in and be ready by the end of the spring. I feel I have improved all around. Coach Genyk has made a big emphasis in route running and all the other stuff. I am just focusing on the little things to highlight my game.

Do you think you've been able to get better because of the seniors you've been able to learn from, guys like Jacob Pedersen, Brian Wozniak and others? How important was it to get those learning lessons?

Traylor: I think that was very critical to my success and improvement and a player because those guys showed that if you want to play you've got to make plays. People put pressure on them to be playmakers so they have to focus on details, improving your pass catching and blocking and be ready to jump in when you are needed.

What's the big thing you took away from the seniors last season?

Traylor: They all had a high attention to detail, especially Pedersen. Wozniak never missed a call. They rarely made fundamental mistakes and they had continuous effort, never taking any plays off. That's something that carried over into practice. If you aren't getting the ball, you are running your guy off the play as far as you can.

What's the biggest thing you do this winter to get yourself prepared for the fall knowing that there was going to be a big opportunity for playing time?

Traylor: I really focused in on route running. We did a lot of route running and a lot of conditioning stuff. I did some speed stuff on my own on the weekends. You can't work too much on the contact aspect of football, so I tried to work on other areas.

What's the big advantage you have to having the same tight end coach for the second straight season, especially after the amount of coaching changes this program has experienced recently?

Traylor: I was actually really excited that we didn't lose many coaches. I feel it was a great contribution to my success that we have the same playbook. I felt that having to learn a new playbook slowed me down. Having the same coach back knows how you're going to practice and what his expectations of you are.

What do you like about how the tight end is used in this offense?

Traylor: It's critical to the success of the offense. We're a power team and we can't run the football without the tight ends blocking. At the same time the tight end has to catch the ball and make plays in the passing game.

Do you think your biggest strength right now is pass catching or run blocking?

Traylor: I think catching the ball between those two. I don't see myself as weak at run blocking, so I feel I am pretty balanced at both areas of the game. As a tight end, you have to be a guy who can power block down on the defensive ends and be fast enough to make a play on third down.

How important is Sam Arneson to your group?

Traylor: Sam is really bringing us together. We've all talked about it every day that we don't want any let up from the tight end group from last year. Every tight end group has had success here at Wisconsin. He's pushed that a lot. He owns up to what he's doing wrong and tells us where we all need to improve. I think that's great for me and the young guys.

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