MADISON – Kevin Estes wasn’t big on going to high school summer camps … so he didn’t go.
Playing in a smaller high school in California, Estes could have transferred to a bigger high school to get noticed or go against better competition, but he was dedicated to helping establish San Marcos High School.
And in terms of his recruiting process, Estes wanted a school that combined academics and football tradition, not wanting to settle for anything less.
Shying away from the bigger picture certainly helped the University of Wisconsin. With the Badgers needing to find tough offensive linemen to rebuild the program’s depth, Estes was the perfect fit.
“I didn’t want to go to a bum school where my degree wouldn’t mean anything,” said Estes. “Madison is a great school, so they were definitely high on my list. After that I started talking to the coaches to find out who I liked the best and the people who I would be spending my time with.”
A first-team All-California Interscholastic Federation, as well as an all-academic team selection, Estes helped San Marcos average 199.8 passing yards and 133.6 rushing yards per game in 2014.
One of five freshman linemen joining the program, Estes has seen his game grow by leaps and bounds since arriving on campus, putting himself in position to battle for the right tackle spot – and other positions along the line - in the years to come.
Returning for a six 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?
Estes: Definitely feeding myself and living on my own more than anything. I am used to coming home to hot-cooked meals and everything. Now I’m cooking myself. We had meals prepared for us in camp and during the season, but the first month I was here I lost weight because I wasn’t eating enough because I didn’t know what to eat. The nutritionist really helped me there.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Estes: It’s more technique than I thought. In high school I could get away with being bigger and stronger where I could pancake people. Here, if you don’t have good footwork and you don’t have your hands placed right, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?
Estes: I came in lifting a lot, which was basically all I was doing because I had to get as big as I could possibly could. My numbers have gone up a ton. I just had to get rid of some of the fat before I could build muscle on top.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what are your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Estes: Definitely size right now is a weakness. I’m not big enough. I knew I was going to have to redshirt because I only weighed 275 pounds. I have to put on a lot of weight to be able to compete with those guys. I’ve been memorizes all the plays pretty well and watching film all the time, so I would consider that a strength.
How is Madison different than your home town of San Marcos, Calif.?
Estes: The people here are so friendly and nice. The people in San Marcos aren’t mean to me or anything, but the people here are more of a community and more involved with each other. I really enjoy it.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Estes: I want to study political science.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Estes: On Lake Monona I have a fishing spot, and I hit it up all the time. It’s actually the screensaver on my phone. With the sunset, it’s just beautiful. I got out there with Alex Hornibrook and we catch a couple of bass and just relax. It’s probably my favorite spot.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Estes: I guess you could say the weight room. They push us real hard.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Estes: Fish. I always want to fish, or hang out with the guys.
Who are you living with this fall and how is that relationship going?
Estes: Kelly Thomas (walk-on defensive end from Racine). We really don’t spend a lot of time in our room other than sleeping, but he’s a cool dude. I lived with Kraig Howe, Olive Sagapolu and David Moorman over the summer.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about living with that group over the summer?
Estes: Olive likes to throw on the weirdest movies you can find. We were watching a Chinese soccer movie and where the guy kicked the ball and it tore off another guy’s clothes. We walked into that all the time where it was, “Olive, what are you watching?”
Where does your biggest support come from?
Estes: My family. They call or text me every single day. They want to Skype every day. I have a lot of support back home.
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?
Estes: They were stoked. When I originally got my first offer, they were just freaking out. They were excited that I just get to continue to go on and play football. Having a free education was always a good thing.
What was the main reason why you committed to Wisconsin?
Estes: The football team is a family here, more than any other school. The only other school that was like that was BYU because they have the religion that connects them all. For some reason, the o-line here is just a family, whereas other schools everybody is just competing against one another. Here they try to make each other better. I think that was the biggest reason.
What is like putting on that Wisconsin jersey every day and getting a chance to run out on to the field for a home game?
Estes: It’s definitely a big deal every time you step on the practice field. You have to compete if you even want a chance to play here. That’s a big thing. Every single day has to be your best if you want to get better.