MADISON – One of the best 8-man football players in the country, Isaiahh Loudermilk is now learning the ropes with six more players on the field.
While playing the wide-open 8-man game is a feast for skill position players, Loudermilk is still playing football with his hand in the dirt and attacking the quarterback. A season ago he logged 97 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and five touchdown receptions. A three-time all-conference selection, Loudermilk helped guide West Elk High to a 10-1 record and its first-ever playoff win last season.
Redshirting this season to add strength and make the adjustment, Loudermilk was a must-have for Wisconsin defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield and receiver coach Ted Gilmore with the three-star prospect’s natural talent. Not only did he finish his career with 267 tackles, 22 sacks and three interceptions on defense and eight touchdowns on offense, the two-year team football MVP was first-team all-state in basketball by Kansas Basketball Coaches Association as a junior, averaging 19.2 points, 14.7 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What’s been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Loudermilk: I’d say living on my own because I was always used to having my mom, my sister and my brother there, and now I’m all by myself and making my own decisions. It’s actually been good. It’s got a lot easier now. I feel like I can do things pretty easily. The first two weeks of school were pretty rough because it was so much different than high school, but as things have gone by, I’ve been adjusting to it pretty well.
You had the big adjustment coming from 8-man football to 11-man football, but what have been some other challenged adjusting to the college game?
Loudermilk: The physicality of it. It’s double what I was getting in high school. It’s been tough to adjust to, but I feel I have been adjusting pretty well. Other than that, the more people on the field, I feel like I haven’t really noticed. It feels the same, just more compact.
How did you prepare your body before coming to college so you would be able to step right in and start competing?
Loudermilk: I wasn’t thinking as much physically as much as mentally. I wanted to get myself mentally prepared for what was coming. Physically I tried to get as strong as I could so I could take on more hits so I could stack up against the big offensive linemen. I wanted to get stronger and faster, but the mental part is what I really tried to focus on.
What do you think your strengths are right now where you can help this team and what your biggest areas of weaknesses?
Loudermilk: My biggest strength right now is my size. My weaknesses are the technique of it all, striking people. I’ve been trying to work on that. This whole year I’m going to work on being more physical, being able to use my strike and use the right technique while going 110 percent.
How is Madison different than your hometown of Howard, KS?
Loudermilk: I don’t know how to explain it. A lot different. Going from knowing every single person in town to walking around campus with thousands of the people on the same street as me and not knowing anyone. I feel like I should know them all but I don’t. During the summer when I first got here, it was hard. Back home I could just go out and see anyone. This summer I’d go out and wouldn’t know what I was doing or who people were. It’s become fun. I like it a lot.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Loudermilk: I think I’m going to study kinesiology. I might want to be a strength coach or get into physical therapy.
What’s your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Loudermilk: Greenbush Bakery is my favorite place or Mickey’s (Dairy Bar) for breakfast.
What’s your least favorite place on campus?
Loudermilk: I’d say this summer at the Regent. The place was nice, but I felt when I was there I wasn’t getting anything done. Any time I was in my room I felt something was missing.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Loudermilk: I would just go to the Terrace on Wednesdays for open mic night, just going to sit and watch.
Who are you living with this fall?
Loudermilk: Cole Van Lanen. Me and Cole are pretty good friends. We’ve been having fun the first few weeks.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learn about Cole?
Loudermilk: I don’t know if it’s because I’m from a different place than he is, but the way he talks. He uses different kinds of words I normally wouldn’t say. He’s a really funny guy.
Where does your biggest support come from?
Loudermilk: I’d say the coaching staff. They talk to me a lot and I talk to them a lot. I still feel I get support from back home. I still talk to my mother, brother and sister, so I still get support from them. They just came down to visit, so that was nice.
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?
Loudermilk: It’s kind of hard to tell with my mom. She’s extremely happy, I can tell that, but I feel like she was extremely nervous at first. I don’t know if she felt like I was actually ready to go out in the real world, but I feel like that’s how all moms are.
From all of your scholarship offers, what made Wisconsin stand out from everyone else?
Loudermilk: Every place I visited had stuff that was great. They had that one or two things that were great, but when I came here is was everything. The people, that Midwestern nice thing I felt when I was up here, that made me feel like back home. Everyone was nice that I talked to. It didn’t seem like there was any negativity in the town.
Coach Nokes and Coach Gilmore were two people I always talked to, and I got a close relationship with them in my recruitment. Those were the two people who really drew me into the school. And the tradition. I had known about Wisconsin. I did some research and saw the tradition that was here. I saw everything that had to offer. I couldn’t think of a better place. Even if it’s far from home, I still feel like I’m at home.
What it’s like to put on the Wisconsin jersey every day, run out of the tunnel in front of 80,000 fans and be a part of this program on a daily basis?
Loudermilk: When we first ran out of the tunnel, I just felt blessed. I never expected to run out of a tunnel like that. What it really does for me is it gets me excited for the years to come. I know I can look forward to running out of that tunnel for four or five more years. It’s a great experience, and I’m excited for more.