MADISON – Cole Van Lanen won’t forget his first collegiate experience any time soon.
Although he’ll be a spectator on Saturday, Van Lanen - one of only two Green Bay natives on Wisconsin’s fall camp roster – will be loudly cheering from the sidelines when the Badgers take on LSU less than 10 miles where he and sophomore fullback Alec Ingold played high school football. In a few years, Van Lanen will likely be clearing paths for Ingold and a host of other Wisconsin tailbacks.
A U.S. Army All-American and the top rated offensive tackle in the state last season, Van Lanen comes into Wisconsin as a two-time first-team all-state selection and is being groomed by offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph to be the Badgers’ left tackle of the future once junior Ryan Ramczyk graduates.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What’s been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Van Lanen: To be honest with camp, I can’t remember what college life was like. It’s been different not having my mom or dad anymore. You have to be very independent, but you live and breathe being here (at Camp Randall), so it’s never like we’re really with being around the guys all the time. It’s fun being together.
What’s been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Van Lanen: You’ve got to look at the positives. Nobody is going to love camp. Take it practice by practice is what we’ve been preaching every day, do your best every practice and not focus on the end. I think that mentality as really helped me get through it, so it hasn’t been that bad. Just take every play as your hardest and you can relax after that.
How did you prepare your body before coming to college so you would be able to step right in and start competing?
Van Lanen: We worked hard in the offseason and the strength and conditioning staff took care of our bodies in a way to get us prepared for camp. Coach Rudolph helped us with some different stuff so we’d be prepared for camp and not just coming in wide open. That helped. I felt I was physically and mentally ready for camp.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Van Lanen: My strengths I’d say is how to run block. I came from a run-blocking school and that’s really what I was. Probably my biggest weakness, although I am getting better at it, is pass sets. I’ve got to understand how to stay vertical, when to back up and my punch. I’ve got to put it all together.
How is Madison different than Green Bay?
Van Lanen: There’s something always to do or something you could be doing. Green Bay sometimes gets a little boring, but that’s home. I’m glad to call this place home now. I like being in a bigger city.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Van Lanen: I’m taking it slow my freshman year but I am thinking either business or communications.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Van Lanen: Either State Street or my bed. I like State Street because there a lot of things to do down there, but it’s also nice to hang out in the rooms and relax.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Van Lanen: Depending on what we’re doing, sometimes I love it here (at Camp Randall) and sometimes I don’t. I love Madison, so I really can’t say I hate somewhere.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Van Lanen: Right now it’s just hanging out with everyone because we don’t have a lot of relax time right now. We like going out, having a fun time or hanging around Madison. I still haven’t seen all of Madison.
Who are you living with this fall?
Van Lanen: Isaiahh Loudermilk. He’s awesome, a lot of fun.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Isaiahh?
Van Lanen: He’s tough. He’s such an outgoing guy, so mellow outside football. When he comes on the field, he’s tough and he battles people. I don’t think people would realize that unless they saw him on the field.
Where does your biggest support come from?
Van Lanen: My family and the coaches I’ve had previously. My high school basically brought me in as parents and my parents are family and have been with me since day one.
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?
Van Lanen: They’re amazing. They’ve been through this whole recruiting process with me. They’re so happy and so proud of me. They’ve been along for the whole ride.
From all of your scholarship offers, what made Wisconsin stand out from everyone else?
Van Lanen: There’s two things. One, I am close to home and I can see my family, because that support system is huge. Two, I am a Badger. I am a Badger for life. It’s the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I would have felt like a traitor had I gone anywhere else.
What do you think it’s going to be like on September 10 when you get to run out of the tunnel in front of 80,000 fans for the first time?
Van Lanen: It’ll be that one moment that I’ll have in my entire life where it’ll be a dream-come-true type of thing. You grow up watching that, not even thinking you could do that. It’ll be amazing when that does happen.