Back from the Brink

The highly coveted in-state recruit in 2008 for Wisconsin, Menasha's Tyler Westphal has been limited to the training room, the surgery table and void from the roster. Now after two shoulder operations, the sophomore is finally healthy, and looking to up his conditioning so he can compete in 2010.

Badger Nation: I would have loved to have talked to last year, but it was a really tough year for you. You were the big recruit in the 2008 class and you haven't played a down yet because of injuries. How physically and emotionally taxing has that been for you?

Tyler Westphal: Well, football is something that I love to do, and sitting out for basically two years is really tough, just mentally sitting there and watching. You try to learn a lot, but there's not much you are getting out of practice when you aren't playing. It took a toll mentally. Physically, I didn't get to do a lot of the workouts, so I have to catch up quick with my technique once I got out onto the field and in the weight room also.

Badger Nation: There were a bunch of injuries you had to overcome. You had the shoulder problem and what else?

Tyler Westphal: Well, I pulled my right shoulder pretty bad. I had a tear in my other shoulder, but it wasn't as bad. So, it just kind of steamed one injury after another after another. My left shoulder came out four or five times. After so many times, I decided to have the surgery. My other shoulder happened right when I got into bowl prep. I practiced a couple days and I wrapped up a guy, came down on my shoulder and it just came out.

Badger Nation: You get one shoulder healthy, and have another one can put someone over the edge. How did you stay focused that you would be able to get through this and finally get on the film fully healthy?

Tyler Westphal: At times it was tough, especially going through my long recovery process and having surgery on my shoulder. Coach Ben Herbert really worked with me hard in the weight, kept me going and kept me pushing. He took some time with me to make sure I was healthy and get me back in shape. That helped knowing that when I was ready, I could go out here and do some things.

Badger Nation: How has that time helped with him and what do you feel you are better at now that maybe you struggled with before the injury?

Tyler Westphal: I'd say that he just gave me confidence in the weight room, which I haven't had a lot of opportunities to have. Everything we do in there correlate to on the field and to what we are going to be doing. The stuff that we were working on, he told me I could carry that on to the field because those were the things the team was working on. Knowing those things could help me out here.

Badger Nation: How do you feel right now with your weight and what you are able to do?

Tyler Westphal: Since I have been here, this is the base shape I have been in easily. Herb really got my body right and my eating plans so I couldn't lift weights or practice and do all that stuff. I would say I am in the best shape, so I have to get my technique up.

Badger Nation: Has it also helped that Coach Partridge has been with you every step of the way?

Tyler Westphal: Coach Partridge, through all the issues I went through and everything that I battled back from, has really helped me a lot. He has really helped me out a lot. He's done pretty much everything he's could with the situation, so I am really grateful for him to be my coach.

Badger Nation: Is the tattoo on your right arm (a cross with skulls at the base and a halo at the top) new as well?

Tyler Westphal: The stuff around the cross is new. My grandfather used to tell me that you have to go through hell before you get to heaven. That was my thought process when I was hurt. I was struggling some days with things and I knew that I had to get through hell to get to heaven. I was down at the bottom and I am trying to get back up.

Badger Nation: It must help having the tattoo right there so when you are struggling, you can look at it and get your motivation back?

Tyler Westphal: Yes, sir. It helped me get going on a lot of tough days.

Badger Nation: When you are on the field now, how are you feeling that you are healthy, you are starting to find a groove and that you have your eyes set on participating this fall?

Tyler Westphal: I literally just want to be on the field. My steps feel slow to me, even watching them on tape. Getting back my footwork and timing is the biggest thing that I have to get back. I think once that comes along, things will start to snowball into good things for me. I feel I am getting comfortable once again and Coach Bielema has been giving us good technique pointers. I am just trying to carry everything I can on to the field.

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