Brains and Brawns

Coming to a semester early may turn out to be the smartest decision Walworth Big Foot lineman Travis Frederick ever made. Not only as he got a grasp of the offense, Frederick's progress has made him a viable candidate to be the next man in on the Wisconsin offensive line.

MADISON - It's fair assessment to say Travis Frederick is a smart man.

Recording a 4.065 GPA as a senior at Walworth Big Foot High School, Frederick plans to major in computer engineering. He's barely 18 and already has plans of getting a job in the software design field where he can make a difference in the world.

So when the standout high school tackle decided to skip his final semester of high school, so he could get a head start on learning UW's complicated offense, it was a surprise that people questioned Frederick's motives.

"I got the ‘Why would you do that?' question a lot," Frederick said at UW's Media Day Sunday. "I think (coming in early) has really helped to where I am today, having been able to come in the spring and develop physically and getting a chance to learn the playbook; all that has got me to where I am able to contribute."

With injuries sidelining starting center John Moffitt and starting right guard Bill Nagy for the first two weeks of camp, Frederick's patience and due diligence has paid off, as the true freshman could find himself on the starting offensive line when Wisconsin opens the 2009 season with a home contest on September 5 against Northern Illinois.

"I wouldn't be surprised at all if he is a starter for us in the fall or putting a serious push on (the starters)," head coach Bret Bielema said.

Since first stepping foot on campus in January, Frederick has already added 20 pounds of muscle and drawn solid reviews from Bielema, offensive line and recruiting coach Bob Bostad and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst for being able to pick up different nuisances and incorporate them into his arsenal.

Frederick opened spring practices as the backup center, but closed spring ball as the backup on the depth chart at left guard behind junior Jake Bscherer, who has struggled with the transition from tackle after redshirting last season.

With UW's depth being thin at multiple areas on an already young offensive line (where UW will have three new starters this season), Frederick's participation and knowledge he gained spring football has already provided dividends.

"If he had been an incoming freshmen and meeting (everyone) for the first time, it would be almost overwhelming," Bielema said. "Because of what he's been able to do in the spring and the summer, he's been a very nice surprise for us. He got so many reps during spring ball (and) that is a huge advantage."

The Southern Rock Valley's conference lineman of the year in '06, '07 and '08 and a first-team all-state, all-district and all-conference offensive and defensive lineman his senior and junior year, Frederick always knew that playing for the Badgers was where he wanted to be.

So when Wisconsin offered Frederick after the lineman impressed the coaching staff with the way he carried himself during UW's three-day high school summer camp last year, Frederick decision was made simple, committing to UW over scholarship offers from Army, Iowa, Navy and North Dakota State and high interest from Minnesota.

"What I have seen here is that everyone comes together and the team is really there for each other," said Frederick of his choice to pick UW. "I know that if there's ever a problem, I can make a phone call and half the team would be there by my side. That's a nice thing to have."

What has proved to be another positive thing for Frederick is being taught and encouraged by Moffitt, who is always pointing out nuisances to Frederick from the sideline. Using a heavy combination of studying the playbook to see how the offense runs to watching film of Kraig Urbik and Andy Kemp at guard, Frederick has learn what adjustments he needs to make in order to play center and guard at a high level.

The next biggest adjustment Frederick might have to make is from reserve to starter, something he never expected this early in his college journey.

"It's really been a crazy ride," Frederick said. "When I got up here before spring ball, I got the notion that I was going to move to center, so I started studying the playbook, but I didn't think it would come this far. I'm definitely excited to get out there and help the team. I just want the team to be successful – whether I am in there or not."

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