MADISON - He was the last offer by the former coaching staff and one of the first uncommitted players Gary Andersen targeted after being hired by Wisconsin. Needless to say, Billy Hirschfeld was a wanted man by the coaching staffs at the University of Wisconsin.
Finishing his career with 184 tackles, 49 TFLs, 35 sacks, nine forced fumbles, eight pass breakups and two blocked field goals, Hirschfeld’s accolades fill up his parent’s mantel. He was the recipient of Tim Krumrie Award as top defensive lineman in Wisconsin as a senior, along with being named the conference’s co-defensive player of the year and a first-team all-state selection as a junior and a season. He played for Team USA in International Bowl and won two state championships with the Warhawks.
Now he’s polishing his craft as a redshirt at Wisconsin, slotted in at the defensive end position and will likely be involved in an all-Wisconsin defensive end rotation with Alec James and Chikwe Obasih in the years to come.
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?
Hirschfeld: The first couple weeks were a little rough. I was a little homesick. I live close by, but you still get the feeling of missing your parents. With the group of freshmen that we have here, I was able to build like a little family up here, as well, because we all came together, hung out, did everything together. That helped me out.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Hirschfeld: It’s a grind. There’s a lot of bigger guys here that I have gone up against since high school, so it’s a big difference. A lot of the offensive linemen I am going against are 300 pounds. I still need to gain some weight and build some muscle to knock heads with those guys.
Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?
Hirschfeld: I had to change my diet. I had to make sure to eat a lot more and maintaining my goal weight. I also have to make sure I am getting the plays down on defense.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Hirschfeld: Probably one of my biggest things are knowing the plays right away. I wanted to get them down and make sure I am in the right alignment and doing the right assignment. Probably the weakest thing would maintaining consistency of staying in my gap, making sure my hands stay in place and remembering my keys.
How is Madison different than your home town of Okauchee, Wis.? What’s the biggest difference?
Hirschfeld: (laughing) Over the summer it was quiet here and in my home town it wasn’t because I live on Okauchee Lake. That’s kind of a big party lake. It switched as it got closer to the school year.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Hirschfeld: I am not entirely sure yet. I am just playing it by ear right now.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Hirschfeld: The first week we went to the terrace a lot. We’d just walk to the terrace and chill out on the pier. It’s nice to just walk around a little bit.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Hirschfeld: I don’t think I have found one yet to be honest.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Hirschfeld: I just enjoy hanging out with the guys. If I can get a nap in real quick I’ll do that, but I’d rather hang out with the guys and keep building that bond.
Who are you going to live with this fall? How are those relationships?
Hirschfeld: I lived with Brett Connors and P.J. Rosowski over the summer, and this fall I am living with Micah Kapoi. I knew Brett before coming here. We played against each other in feeder school and knew each other from basketball, too. We have a good friendship going.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Micah?
Hirschfeld: I love Micah to death. He was a little shy at first but as we kept building and talking, we’ve got a good friendship going.
Who was your big brother and was the biggest thing you learned from him?
Hirschfeld: Jake Keefer. He takes every little detail and makes sure it’s there, that everything is right. He analyzes the film and teaches me to be a perfectionist.
Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?
Hirschfeld: Probably my parents. A little bit of a rough time the first couple weeks, but they always call me and text me, reassuring me that it’s going to be ok.
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?
Hirschfeld: They are thrilled. They are excited that I get to go out under the lights and be a part of actual games.
What’s the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey?
Hirschfeld: It makes me feel like I accomplished something that made a lot of people proud back at home, just a lot of people that have been with me over the years, coached me and helped me through different things. I feel like I accomplished something and made them proud.