Spring Focus: Jake Wood

Junior offensive lineman is fighting for a starting spot

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Whether it is desired or not, change is an inevitable fact of life. Some welcome an alteration to life while others do not like to stray far from their regular path. Currently, Wisconsin junior Jake Wood is experiencing both sides of the story as he moves around the football field.


The 6-foot-6, 289-pound Bettendorf, Iowa native is no stranger to the offensive line but since he came to Wisconsin, he has not seen himself in the same position for too long, especially in the past year. When fall camp began last season he played behind Morgan Davis at left tackle but soon was switched to the right side to make way for Joe Thomas. Now that spring practices have begun, Wood has, at least for now, taken over senior Jonathan Clinkscale's right guard position on the first team.


"I haven't played guard since high school," Wood said. "It's been good though because I've been working with the ones, so I've been getting a lot of reps with guys like (left guard) Dan (Buenning) and (sophomore center) Donovan (Raiola). So it hasn't been that bad of a transition."


Though Wood is making strides during practice, he has not had much opportunity to play in games at any position. After redshirting his first season, he did not letter in 2002. His efforts during practice did help him earn the offensive scout team player of the week award after the game against Northern Illinois that season. He was in the two-deep last season and earned his first letter, but mostly toiled behind the entrenched starters.


Wood, though, is only concerned with one thing at the moment.


"I'm just trying to learn as much as I can," Wood said. "Having moved to right guard I'm just trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can. Playing guard is helping me learn the whole offense even more and how I fit into the scheme even if I move back into right tackle. I just know that much more about every assignment."


While Wood has not had much opportunity to stay at one position, he had a heads up about his position change before coming into spring practice. Offensive line coach Jim Hueber has been pleased with Wood during practice thus far and is hoping that the position change will work out for the best in the end.


"He's dealt with all the position changes well," Hueber said. "We knew it in the off-season, we told him up front so it was good. I hope he's in the depth next year. I really think it is a good move for him and I think it will give him a chance to play so we're hoping for him."


At the moment, the right guard position belongs to Wood, but do not be surprised if yet another change happens this spring. According to Hueber, all the jobs are up for grabs and nothing will be certain until next season's fall camp rolls around. Wood is also practicing as a reserve left guard. If he does not win a starting spot next fall, he could conceivably become a top backup at four offensive line positions.


Position battles aside, Wood has high hopes for his team and the upcoming season.


"To get to the Rose Bowl is the only hope I have," Wood said. "Personally, I haven't thought about personal goals too much. I came in here because I wanted to play in a Rose Bowl. We have not competed in the Big Ten as well as I thought we were going to when I first came in here, so that's kind of disappointing. Personal goals aside, its just all about winning more games."

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