Entering the Wisconsin football program can be an intimidating thing for a freshman. Players have to compete for a place on the depth chart and learn a completely new and complex way to play the game.
Wide receiver Jarvis Minton traveled from Arlington, Texas, to join the Badgers and is currently going through the motions of a typical first-year player. Redshirting ended up not being the path for Minton, but playing time has not been given to him automatically. The wide receivers corps is without current Buffalo Bill Lee Evans this year but the group is definitely not lacking in talent. Minton now had the added pressure of joining an already experienced group of receivers including junior Brandon Williams and senior Darrin Charles. Though all of the receivers sans Charles will rejoin the team next year, Minton knows it is up to him to earn a spot in the rotation.
"Coach didn't redshirt me or (true freshman Marcus) Randle El so that tells me that we must have something that they wanted," Minton said. "So that just means that we have to find it, we have to bring it out of ourselves and they're going to use it someway or another."
Besides competing for a spot, Minton has had to learn how to compete for the football and has had to learn the complex pass routes the Badgers use.
"We have a trickle down effect, that's just the way we work," Mason said. "The older guys try to take the young guys and try to teach them. All the guys we've got playing now learned from Lee (Evans) and Chris (Chambers) and those guys and now they're trying to pass that down to Jarvis and Randle-El. That's how they learn."
Another thing Minton has had to adjust to was the type of offense Wisconsin ran compared to his high school team. Mason commented that at Mansfield Summit High School, Minton was used to a rushing offense. Despite the reliance on the ground attack, Minton managed 21 catches for 425 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior campaign. Wisconsin is also typically known for its rush offense, but the air attack is also prevalent.
"The one thing that he does have is he has the physical skills," Mason said. "He's just got to learn how to play receiver in an offense where we throw the football a little. He's going to be a good player, it just takes a little bit of time. He's getting a little better everyday and learns something everyday. He needs to continue to stay focused and do the best he can and it will all fall into place for him."
Though Minton has been working hard at receiver, he has admitted that he slacked in other areas. Minton had a spot on the punt return team but was removed from his duties before the Penn State game, then returned for the Illinois game but has not seen action since.
"I didn't try my hardest on special teams," Minton said. "I got taken off of that but I've been trying hard to get back on that. It's kind of hard for a No. 2 position to get back on that so I've been trying to do my best."
All in all, this first year at Wisconsin has been a learning experience for Minton. Mason commented that when Minton is completely comfortable with the offense, he is ready to turn him loose come gametime. Minton is looking forward to that time but for now he knows that there is more he can get out of this year.
"I just want to learn as much as I can," Minton said. "If I'm truly not going to play, I'll have the experience so next year when I get back in I will already know the speed of the game and know everything I need to do to get open so I'll have no problem getting the ball."
Minton getting his feet wet
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