Chapman faces big challenge

In his first career start, defensive tackle Jason Chapman will give up 70 pounds to his counterpart

Jason Chapman has never played a college football game. Yet Saturday, when the University of Wisconsin hosts Bowling Green at Camp Randall Stadium, he will be in the Badgers' starting lineup at left defensive tackle.

"That's a big thrill to me," Chapman said. "It's a big compliment from the coaches and I know I've got to play my full part in my position and just take charge and do what they expect of me."

Chapman, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound redshirt freshman, was supposed to be UW's top reserve across the defensive line this season. When starting left tackle Justin Ostrowski went down indefinitely with a knee injury, however, Chapman moved from second-team right defensive end into the starting lineup.

"I feel it's a blessing but at the same time I feel for my teammate," Chapman said. "I say a prayer for him every day. I hope just to fill the shoes that they would want me to fill and do the right thing on the field."

Ostrowski (6-5, 304), UW's best tackle before the injury, did leave some large shoes to fill. But even he would yield a great deal of weight to BGSU's starting right guard, fourth-year junior Derrick Markray, who stands an imposing 6-5, 350 pounds.

"He's a big fellow," Chapman said with a smile. "I'm only 280 but I'm going to bring it."

Markray played in 11 games last season, but will also be making his first career start. He is joined on BGSU's offensive line by two other first-year starters: senior center Jonathan Culp (6-6, 290) and sophomore right tackle Drew Nystrom (6-5, 304).

Going up against a player the size of Markray does not change Chapman's mentality on the field.

"Basically it is just reading keys and following what coach (says)," Chapman said. "It's fundamentals basically."

It will help his cause that Chapman has built up to 280 pounds, since coming to Madison as a 265-pound defensive end recruit. More importantly, the shoulder that was surgically repaired in late October has felt completely strong since early April, which allowed Chapman to take full part in summer conditioning workouts.

"I was pretty cautious about it during spring ball," Chapman said. "You don't want to get hit the wrong way."

"Once you have surgery, you just feel so weak and you've got to rebuild it back up and get it stronger again," Chapman said. "Now, I basically feel back to my old self."

Chapman looked fine during fall camp and steadily made more plays as he became reacquainted with playing tackle. He has a good combination of strength and quickness for a player his size.

"I feel I've been doing pretty good but there always can be corrections that can be made and that I need to follow up," he said.

Chapman was recruited to UW as a defensive end and weighed about 240 pounds as a high school senior. He was 272 early last season, he said, and while redshirting he played some defensive tackle on the scout team. Last spring, he rotated between end and tackle but took the majority of his reps at tackle.

"I played [tackle] in the spring, so the memory hasn't really got erased," Chapman said. "It's just fresh in mind. I feel a little bit more comfortable inside anyways…

"I knew I was going to start off camp as an end but I knew I had to have the tackle position in the back of my mind as well to pick either one up."


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