"A dream season would have been starting every game and doing things at a higher level," Frederick said. "With what I have been presented, I couldn't have asked for anything else. I think I have done pretty well in maximizing what I have been given."
Enrolling last January so he could participate in spring football, Frederick was the sole beneficiary to incumbent center John Moffitt's freak weight lifting injury before the opening of fall camp. The extra reps Frederick received in the spring made him the natural choice to start UW's season opener, making him the first true freshman lineman to start his first game in school history.
But just like an injury gave him the starting nod, a twisted ankle in the first quarter against Fresno State in week 2 took it away. Frederick was taken to bench, where he stayed for 11 weeks in favor of his replacement, redshirt freshman Peter Konz, making positive strides himself.
With the Badgers having three capable centers, the decision was made to move Frederick to left guard to build some needed depth at the position.
"I think in the end, he is a better guard than a center, so we wanted to get him ready at that position," Offensive Line Coach Bob Bostad said. "I think he showed me some things early on that he has pretty good vision for things like that. We want our guards to be good size, have some decent weight and he has that."
The move proved vital after Konz developed a blood clot in each lung on the flight over to Hawaii that caused him to be rushed to the emergency room and Bostad to reshuffle the line the night before the Badgers were to face the Warriors. In steps Frederick at guard and the Badgers don't miss a beat, racking up 554 yards in a 51-10 blowout.
With Konz still out, Frederick is penciled in to start again at left guard when No.24 Wisconsin (9-3) takes on No.14 Miami (9-3) in the Champs Sports Bowl Tuesday in Orlando.
"The biggest lesson that I have learned here is to always be ready for anything that comes at you in life," Frederick said. "There might be a guy coming and you hurt your ankle or a guy is going to get sick and you have to play. In life, you have to be ready for that, too. You have to be able to change on a dime."
That mentality has kept Frederick in top physical shape throughout the season. Tipping the scales upwards of 342 pounds during the season, 30-plus pounds than his weight his senior year at Big Foot, the difference in Frederick's personality and demeanor has been the biggest growth of all.
"When he first came in, he was pretty mature both physically and mentally," said senior captain Chris Maragos. "He was a guy that stuck out right away because he looked like he had been here for two years. He had that demeanor that he wanted to compete and get after it. He's only going to progress and a guy Badger fans are going to get to know for a long time."
Added Frederick: "The difference has been incredible. When I started fall camp, I was at an entirely different level compared to spring or winter. It's made me a stronger person and a much difference person."
None of that transformation would have been possible had Frederick not made the decision to attend one of Wisconsin's high school summer camps in summer 2008, an experience that caught the eye of Bostad.
"The number one reason Travis Frederick is here is because he came to our camp and he was a physical," Bostad said. "If a kid really wants to play at Wisconsin, it's the best way to get in front of someone. If you want a great job, you need to go for an interview. You can't get a better deal than that."
The only thing Frederick needs now is experience, something he will get against a Hurricanes defense that ranks 25th in total defense (321.25), and hasn't allowed an opponent to rush for over 100 yards in the final seven games of the regular season. More importantly, it's an opponent that is only going to help Frederick reach his goal of becoming a full-time starter quicker.
"To go against a defensive line that's strong, big and coming at you the whole time, you can really judge yourself," Frederick said. "This is big-time football every play and if I can execute well, it's going to come off as a big thing. This is a thrown in for next year for me. I need to use this game and this period to catapult myself into next year to show the coaches I can handle playing in a big-time game against a big-time opponent."