Spring Q&A: Rob Wheelwright

He only had one catch last season but the touchdown Rob Wheelwright caught against Minnesota is one the junior believes will give him some momentum and confidence this spring and beyond.

BadgerNation: What has it been like working with Coach Ted Gilmore, a man who has a lot of college and NFL experience, and what kind of things is he teaching that are resonating with you?

Rob Wheelwright: He’s really just trying to have us be comfortable. He really slowed down the offense for us early, making sure that we understand the plays before even the quarterbacks know them. That’s one good thing he has been doing. When it comes to routes, he’s trying to make sure we keep our speed, get in and out of our breaks. He’s been real great with that.

BN: Is it about baby steps with your group this spring in terms of getting to know him and getting to know the group’s dynamic?

RW: Not really. We haven’t been taking many baby steps. We all kind of clicked because we love the game of football. It was a real easy transition with having a new coach. We really got to know each other well over the little course of time that we’ve had.

BN: How are you a different player than what you were a couple months ago?

RW: I’m more confident. I’ve got more work to do. I really just want to come out here and continue to play hard and continue to play healthy … I like one-on-one battles, me versus a corner. Going against a smaller corner, I can usually win that matchup. That’s one thing I like to show in this spring and this fall camp coming up.

BN: Looking back at your one catch last season – the game-sealing touchdown catch against Minnesota – how much does that do for you in your confidence? You obviously knew you could do it, but to do it in a rivalry game had to help you move forward.

RW: It helped a lot. I feel like it gave me the confidence. Like you said, I always knew I could do it but just doing it was what I needed to do. It helped me a lot outside of football and on the field. I feel like it will push me to get better.

BN: As a group of wide receivers, how do you evaluate how last year went?

RW: I feel like we were hungry, real humble and we worked hard. We did what the coaches asked us. We had some drop off, but I feel like we have a lot to prove this year.

BN: Were you productive enough last year as a group?

RW: I think we were productive on the aspect of when we was given opportunities. When we was given opportunities, I feel like we made enough plays. We didn’t have enough opportunities, so it didn’t look as well as any other receiving corps.

BN: Getting to know Paul Chryst, Joe Rudolph and this offense a little bit, how many more opportunities do you think there will be in the passing game this year compared to past years?

RW: I think there will be a lot more. They are comfortable with it. They see that we have athletes and it seems like they know how to use them. I really like Coach Chryst, the offense Coach Rudolph is bringing here to Wisconsin and it just feel like it involves a lot of the receivers. It gets guys into the game and shows that guys can play.

BN: How are things different from a year ago from the receiver stand point?

RW: Just the passes and the variety of routes. Last year I feel like we was maybe a little bit more limited when it came to routes, and this year we’ll be more creative with the players we have. Being able to work the one-on-one matchup, I feel like we’ll be able to throw more deep balls as well.

BN: How many players do you see competing for those starting receiver spots?

RW: I think it’s a pretty deep group. Everyone wants to be that guy and not just a role player. I feel like that will help us all compete and motivate each other to be that guy.

BN: What’s the goal for you over the final six practices of spring football to get yourself ready for the summer and fall camp?

RW: I just want to become a smarter player and use every day as a learning tool. I come out here every day with something I need to work on, so I want to take advantage of all my opportunities.

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