Taking the Long Road to Madison

Another Badger redshirt freshman taking full advantage of his time on the scout team, linebacker Kevin Rouse's speed and agility has put him in position in be a key special teams contributor in 2008.

MADISON - The recruiting process seems like ages ago to Wisconsin linebacker Kevin Rouse.

Originally thinking he would have to struggle for division one offers, Rouse held 20 offers before settling on the University of Iowa. The commitment was short lived and, thankfully for Wisconsin, that road lead to Madison.

Using his redshirt year to learn the defense and bulk up, Rouse is ready to bring his scout team contribution onto the field for the Badgers in 2008.

BN: How have you approached this spring workout season for you and how would evaluate how you improved each day?

Kevin Rouse: I approach it all as a learning experience. I try to get the plays down and focus more on the mental things. I'll have to admit that I was really struggling in the beginning to be honest with you. But the last couple of practices, I have really gotten it down mentally. I've focused in on physical stuff so I have gotten more reps. When I get the opportunity, I take advantage of it.

BN: Talk about the journey to get here. You originally committed to Iowa and three months later, you changed your commitment to Wisconsin. Can you talk about the process that led to the Iowa and then to Wisconsin?

Kevin Rouse: Man that seems like so long ago now. I was real surprised when I was first offered. My coach said I probably would not get any division one offers, especially not early. Then like the next day, Mississippi offered, my first offer. From there on out, my dad took me around to schools. I wanted to get an opportunity to see what was out there. I ended up with about 20 offers.

I only took one official visit and that ended up being Wisconsin. Things just went sour with Iowa. There are no hard feelings there but there's no need to getting into it or anything. It just really wasn't a great situation but I think there are no hard feelings and I think I ended up in the right place.

BN: What did you like about Wisconsin when you came here?

Kevin Rouse: I really liked the coaching staff. They are young, real enthusiastic and love the game. That's not something you see a lot of places right now.

BN: What do you view as your real strengths? When you made the highlight video, what are the things you really tried to highlight about yourself?

Kevin Rouse: I showcased my speed a little bit. I think I am pretty fast on the field if I use my speed well. I also feel like I have pretty good instincts. I am pretty confident that I know what I am doing so I can pick things up pretty quick.

BN: A lot of people take the redshirt year differently. More people focus on weights, some on learning the plays, some of both. What did you do to try and better prepare yourself?

Kevin Rouse: Well being on the scout team, you get a chance to go against the best offense in the country. I took that everyday as a game situation. I gave them by best look, not to make them mad, but to learn a lot from it. I think that helped me a lot going against bigger guys like that.

BN: As the transition from high school to college been a smooth one? It varies for a lot of people but how has it been for you?

Kevin Rouse: I thought it would be hard physically for me to handle. But I put on a lot of muscle fat and just kept up with that. The hardest part for me was the mental aspect of it – getting the playbook down because in high school, it's not complex at all. That was and has been the hardest part.

BN: Do you throw pressure on yourself because you are highly rated by different recruiting organizations (No.11 linebacker in the nation by Scout.com in 2007)? Do you feel that there's a pressure to live up to that or are you not one that follows that?

Kevin Rouse: I never really looked the ratings for everything. I try to take everything in stride. I came here trying to be the best that I can be and to take advantage of the opportunities I get. I never really thought about it because the only pressure I have is what I put on myself.

It does humble you though that your hard work pays off to be the x-best linebacker out there. Working at it, working on my speed and football since I have been in second grade. It's nice to finally see a climax, which is probably the best part about it.

BN: You have a very talented linebacking core in front you. What do you take away from the veterans that are this unit, some of the best linebackers in the conference?

Kevin Rouse: A lot. A lot of it is just from watching them play. I watch tape of them and just see how they do things – their technique, their footwork and what they are seeing when they play. Mainly that and if I need help, they are real great with correcting me on my mistakes and letting me know what I need to do.

BN: How much are you looking forward to the spring game being able to be out there, contribute and play in your first real Camp Randall experience?

Kevin Rouse: I look forward to it a lot. All the reps that I get, I am going to take advantage of to the best of my ability. It's going to be pretty cool but then again. It's just another practice. You really have to focus in on playing football and not concentrate so much on the atmosphere of it.

BN: Do you have any goals set out for yourself this year? Some people are very goal oriented and some people take each day as it comes. Where do you fit?

Kevin Rouse: Well for conditioning, it's definitely, I have already made great strides with my weight and everything, getting my body fat percentage down a lot more. That's in the weight room part of it during summer. Football wise, I just really want the play to be second nature to me so that when I get in there, our defense doesn't miss a step.

Badger Nation Top Stories