The Freshman Fifteen - T.J. Edwards

The only true linebacker in Wisconsin's 2014 recruiting class, T.J. Edwards is quickly rising up the depth chart, putting himself in position to contribute early in his career. Badger Nation gets to know the freshman linebacker a little better in the return of our popular feature.

MADISON - T.J. Edwards wasn’t the most highly decorated or the most highly coveted recruit coming out of high school, but that didn’t stop him from making early waves at the University of Wisconsin.

Although the plan is for Edwards to redshirt this season, the 6-1, 229-pound linebacker – the only linebacker Wisconsin signed in the 2014 class – was getting valuable reps with the second-team defense in the weeks leading up to the season opener against LSU, showing that his skill set is already ahead of the curve.

It’s one of the reasons why Wisconsin went after him just three months before signing day. After originally committing to Western Michigan over offers from Toledo and Wyoming in late June, Edwards’ relationship with Wisconsin moved quickly once the Badgers’ top linebacker targets starting falling off the board.

UW assistant coach Jeff Genyk requested Edwards’ senior film, which led to a scholarship offer and an unofficial visit before Thanksgiving.

Edwards had already seen the campus, taking an unofficial visit for the Tennessee Tech game last September. After visiting with the coaching staff on his visit, Edwards knew that Wisconsin was the best fit for him.

Returning for a fifth season, Badger Nation does a meet and greet with the newer members of the Wisconsin football team, shedding a light on some of the unknown kids that figure to be important parts of the Badgers’ future.

Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.

What’s been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?

Edwards: It’s definitely weird. My family has always been there and stuff like that, but not they are not here and you are on your own, which is good. You’re moving up in life. Honestly the transition hasn’t been as bad as I thought just because my teammates have really helped me through this.

What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?

Edwards: It’s a lot different. It’s like a full time job. You’ve got to study, you’ve got to practice, all those good things. It’s a lot different from high school, that’s for sure.

Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?

Edwards: I definitely tried to improve my explosiveness and my strength for sure. Those two are huge things because these guys are all strong and fast. You’ve got to have that edge.

What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?

Edwards: I think for weaknesses to start is knowing the playbook because it’s such a huge playbook and you want to focus on certain things. I’m focused on scout team right now and I want to be helping on the scout team, but at the same time learning my playbook. Strength wise, just being physical and giving that great effort the coaches want. At this point that’s all I can do.

How is Madison different than your home town of Lake Villa, Ill.? What’s the biggest difference?

Edwards: It’s a huge, huge town. Where I come from, everybody knows everyone and stuff like that. This place is a big change.

Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?

Edwards: I was thinking somewhere along the lines of kinesiology. I love physical therapy and stuff like that, so that is what I might be looking into.

What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?

Edwards: Ian’s Pizza is my favorite. My favorite slice is the barbeque ranch one that I think is called ‘Smokey and the Bandit.’

What’s your least favorite place on campus?

Edwards: I don’t think I have found it yet. Once school really starts I am sure that’s going to change, but I don’t think I have found that place yet.

What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?

Edwards: I haven’t found a lot of sleep lately, so either that or hanging out with the guys and building that chemistry.

Who are you going to live with this fall? How are those relationships?

Edwards: I lived with Rafael Gaglianone and D’cota Dixon in the summer and I’m living with Rafael in the fall. Me and Raf have gotten really close, so it’s nice to have him in the dorms with me. We play FIFA soccer all day.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Rafael?

Edwards: It’s amazing to realize how many amazing non-American things he’s done so far. We always go back and forth. He’s a funny guy.

Who was your big brother and was the biggest thing you learned from him?

Edwards: It was Marcus Trotter and he’s really just always in his playbook. He showed me what college football is all about. It’s mostly mental. I am really just trying to follow him and everything he does. He always gives me great tips and that helps a lot.

Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?

Edwards: It’s definitely my family back home. Even though I’m two hours and 30 minutes away from home, they are still always right there for me. They are always giving me good tips and things like that.

What’s your parents reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?

Edwards: I think they are still really in shock. Coming out of high school, I didn’t have that many looks, so to have a chance to play on the biggest stage you can play is on is a blessing.

What’s the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey?

Edwards: It’s really amazing. You just look around the stadium and in the locker room and you see all this tradition. You can’t believe you are a part of it, and I can’t wait to finally put on the game jersey. Even if I am sitting on the sidelines, it’s still going to be a blessing.

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