Calhoun making most of scout time

Colorado transfer could be Wisconsin's featured tailback next season

Two years ago, Wisconsin native Brian Calhoun's freshman season ended with a painful memory when his Colorado were stunned 31-28 in overtime by his home-state Badgers. As Calhoun watched Wisconsin celebrate, he could have never envisioned that some of those players would one day be his teammates.

A transfer from Colorado, Calhoun is sitting out the 2004 season in accordance with NCAA regulations. However, in two short months of football this fall, Calhoun has not only helped propel the Badgers to a No. 6 ranking, but has also provided the coaching staff with a glimpse of the great things that lie ahead for the Oak Creek, Wis. native.

"He has phenomenal balance and great hands, tremendous acceleration, good vision," offensive coordinator Brian White said of his prized transfer. "He picks up things very quickly."

For Calhoun, his role this season is considerably different from the time he spent in Boulder. During his first two years he racked up more than 1,000 yards on the ground, including five rushing touchdowns. The 5-foot-10 tailback saw playing time as a true freshman backing up tailback Chris Brown on Colorado's 2002 Alamo Bowl team.

This year has been a different story though. Calhoun entered the season well aware that he would not see the field on Saturdays, but that has not stopped him from playing an integral part in Wisconsin's success thus far in 2004. Week after week, Calhoun mimics the opposing team's running back for the scout offense, helping Wisconsin's top-ranked defense come to the field each Saturday prepared.

"I think it really helps our defense understand the speed of the game, knowing that they will not play against a better running back on Saturday than what they face everyday in practice, because they won't," White said.

"At first the scout team was hard," Calhoun said of his adjustment. "I played so much freshman and sophomore year, but now I have gotten accustomed to it and we work hard just to make sure our defense gets better and obviously it's paying off. It was hard getting used to but this is my job now."

Calhoun expected a tough adjustment from being the leading rusher on a Big 12 team to becoming a member of a scout team. The multitude of injuries at the tailback spot in the opening weeks made the transition more difficult for him.

"It was really hard when games started rolling around," Calhoun said. "I mean I knew coming in that I couldn't play but who knew that A.D. would get hurt in the first game and Dwayne couldn't play, so it was like, ‘now we don't have a tailback,' and I could have filled in perfectly. I mean there were a lot of nights where I was just mad, but my time is coming and I just have to be patient with it."

The time Calhoun has spent on the scout team has been good for him. He has added seven pounds to his frame since arriving in Madison and he has used the year to develop into a more complete player.

"I am just more of a student of the game," Calhoun said. "You notice a lot more things. I mean I have learned a lot from A.D., just in practice and drills. You know just watching the other guys that come in here. I think that the most of my benefit is the weight room. I mean, I lift four or five times a week so there is going to be a big change come next fall."

Then again, next fall will be here soon enough for the man White says is the most developed scout team running back he has ever seen. When that time comes, Calhoun will have the chance to play at a school that he has grown up following and admiring.

"Wisconsin is a big running back school, so to get a chance just to even be a part of that is huge," Calhoun said. "When A.D., leaves I get a chance to follow in his footsteps and you can't fill those shoes, but it's just great to be mentioned with those guys.

"I think the system really fits me well. I think I can do a lot of the things that A.D. does and it was really a no-brainer [to come to Wisconsin]."


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