MADISON – Mequon Homestead High School has developed a tradition of winning, evident by the fact the Highlanders will be competing in their fifth state title game since 2006 tomorrow. David Pfaff likes to think he had a small hand in carrying on that tradition.
Leading Homestead to Wisconsin Division 2 state semifinals as a senior in 2014, helping his defense allow just 13.1 points and 188.9 total yards per game, Pfaff racked up the rewards last year. He was named the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Defensive Player of the Year, earned first-team all-state honors by the WFCA and Associated Press for the second time and received the Tim Krumrie Award as state's most outstanding senior defensive lineman.
So when the four-year team captain and two-time MVP was looking at colleges, he wanted to find a program similar to what he experienced in southeast Wisconsin. After being on the University of Wisconsin’s campus less than a year, Pfaff couldn’t be happier with his choice.
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?
Pfaff: Time management is big. There’s never really an off day. You have to consistently work at something, even if it’s just studying, reading a book or something. You have to be always moving. There’s no down time.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Pfaff: Just the whole lifestyle. In high school you go home, recharge and come back the next day. This is your life. You wake up and go to bed thinking about football. It’s a business. Understanding that and understanding how you fit into it is perfect. If you understand that, the game is going to go a lot easier and everything is going to go a lot easier.
Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?
Pfaff: I started working out during the spring a lot, learning how they were doing things here and I implemented that in my daily schedule. Nutrition is big here, so I was working on that, and learning the weight lifting techniques that they have. (Strength and conditioning coach Ross) Kolodziej has been really good. I’ve been working with him over the summer and now it’s perfect, so I’m maximizing that.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what are your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Pfaff: Probably just dealing with double teams right now. It’s a little harder, so that’s a weakness. One of the strengths is beating people off the ball, making offensive linemen guess where I’m going to go, stuff like that.
How is Madison different than your home town of Mequon?
Pfaff: Oh, man, Madison, there’s always something to do. It’s just great. The people are nice. I come from a suburb, so it’s great being in the city.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Pfaff: I want to become a special education teacher so I can coach on the side if the whole N.F.L. thing doesn’t work. It’s always good to have a backup plan, and I want to help people.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Pfaff: In the summers the Terrace. Right now State Street is really pretty. Anywhere where you can see the capitol at night is pretty cool.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Pfaff: Probably … classes with very small seats. That is the worst. You cannot fit in and it’s just bad.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Pfaff: Going on Netflix (binge watching season five of the Walking Dead), playing video games, hanging out with friends, watching football and making friends, just talking to so many people and building connections with people. There’s a lot of really awesome people here, so just immerse myself in Wisconsin culture.
Who are you living with this fall and how is that relationship going?
Pfaff: Gunnar Roberge, another defensive lineman. He’s from Seymour, Wisconsin. He’s an awesome guy, and over the summer I was living with Andrew Ruzek, who is another defensive lineman.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about living with Gunnar?
Pfaff: In the morning, he’ll wake up really early and take a big breath through his nose. I’m just trying to sleep and he takes this big breath in and exhales. I’m like, Gunnar, let’s calm down the breathing bro. It’s a weird thing he does that gets him ready, but he soaks in the day a little too much.
Where does your biggest support come from?
Pfaff: My family. When you get to college, at least for me, I didn’t take my family for granted but you really start to miss them. My family, my sister, everyone from Homestead back home that really helped me here. Even the coaching staff here is really cool. Bradie Ewing is one of my mentors who I have really connected with. (Graduate assistant) Bill Nagy is another guy who has been really supportive.
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?
Pfaff: My mom just loves it. She’s so proud of me. She feels very fortunate that I got this opportunity. She comes to every game. She hasn’t missed a game. My dad does the same. He’s more on the sidelines though; he kind of hangs back and says “that’s my boy.”
What was the main reason why you committed to Wisconsin?
Pfaff: The similarities and tradition with Homestead being successful and Wisconsin being successful. I’ve always wanted to go to a school that has the culture of success and Wisconsin has that. You can see some of our past players on the defensive line, J.J Watt and Beau Allen for example, (have) great fundamentals and traditions.
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?
Pfaff: it is the coolest thing I have ever experienced in my life. ON game days when you come out and you see 80,000 fans cheering for you, it’s a feeling that you cannot explain. It is the coolest thing I have ever experienced in my life. It’s so loud, it’s so supportive. Wisconsin football rocks because everyone is excited to be there.