Kyle Jefferson: Really challenging. It was a down year. I didn't expect it to go that way. Things happened. Unfortunately coincidence happened and things like that. I just had to fight through one of the toughest years I have had since I started playing sports.
Badger Nation: How did you learn from last year to not let the struggles or the results from last year happen again this year?
KJ: I just sat down with my family and really talked it out. Really just look back on the season and just get back and come back with a new attitude and a new position. That's what I did. I took that as a learning experience and now, I am focused and just ready to perform and help my team. That's what it is all about.
Badger Nation: You talk about your attitude and coming in focused. Did you not feel that you were not focused at the start of last year? What was your mindset at this time last year?
KJ: I was focused. I didn't think … nothing went as well as I wanted them to. Stuff happened that I never thought would happen. When things happened, I kind of got out-of-sync when I got hurt and things like that. Coach Alexander and Coach Chryst helped me, kept me close and kept talking to me. They got me through it and I was able to come back and play in the Florida State game. I was really happy.
Badger Nation: In addition to your family, how big was it for you to have Alexander's and Chryst's shoulder to lean on and get you through that tough time?
KJ: It's very important. Coach Chryst is an older guy than Coach Alexander and he's been around here a very long time. He's seen a lot of things. Coach Alexander and I came in together when Coach Mason got hurt my freshman year. Coach Alexander came in with me so I have a stronger relationship with Coach Alexander because he's been here since I was a freshman, and that means a lot when a coach and player come in at the same time. They've both grown on me and they both want to see me do well because they know my potential.
Badger Nation: Have you watched the replay of the Minnesota game and the hit?
KJ: Yeah. Yes, I have.
Badger Nation: Thoughts when you watch that? Does that get you refocused or give you a pit in your stomach?
KJ: Nothing. It really doesn't bother me. I usually sit back and watch it with my friends and just laugh about it, because I know that I was able to come back from it and be strong. I laugh about it. I really don't too much care about the hit. He was making a tackle. He wanted to stop me from scoring. I really could care less.
Badger Nation: Is it key to laugh at it at something that was, one would think, a serious point in your career?
KJ: Yeah, it was serious at first when I first got hurt. But after that, once they figured out I was healthy, you laugh at it because you really don't want to think about something like that. It can be a headache, it could be stressful and it could bring back other memories that doesn't even pertain to that hit. It's easier for me just to laugh it off and Thank God that I am still here.
Badger Nation: Tell me a little bit about the new helmet you are wearing.
KJ: I got a new helmet that's more concussion proof. It's safer and better for me. There's more cushion in the front and the back and it's very comfortable. It's for my safety and I am all about safety.
Badger Nation: When you enter spring camp, what were some of the things you were trying to improve upon from last year in order for you to move forward?
KJ: Just run. Just run. I use my God given talent to just run. Run, run, run. Run 100 yards. Just run all day, run and cut and keep my focus. That's the one thing I didn't do last year was I didn't run every play. Running is what I do and running is what I will do.
Badger Nation: Coach Bielema mentioned how he watched you during the track season. How did your season go and what did that do for you confidence wise?
KJ: I had fun and it was a good experience. I finished fourth in the Big Ten in the four-by-four and missed nationals by a couple of seconds, but it allowed me to stay mentally sharp in the offseason. Track is more of an individual sport but on the field, you have to be focused on yourself to make plays for the team. (Running track) kept me focused to make sure that I kept attacking and stay on the top of my game.
Badger Nation: It seems you are more focused. Watching the practices, you're not dropping many passes, your running routes is crisper. Do you feel reinvigorated that this is a new year and a new Kyle Jefferson?
KJ: I really don't think too much if I am a new person or not. I just come out to practice, put my helmet on, strap it up, be focused and help my team when they need help and perform and continue to grow.
Badger Nation: How excited are you about this unit? You have a lot of talented players and a lot of players that are returning from last year. How well rounded are you guys as a group?
KJ: We're really well rounded. This is the time for us explode. The coaches trust us to put the ball in our hands and that's what it's about. We know what to do: we know how to line up, we know how to execute and help the team and get down the field, we know how to block for the running backs and block down field to open up the holes for them so they can get big runs and we know how to take the heat off the backs. We're going to need John Clay, Zach Brown and Erik Smith for the whole year. That's what it's about.