Byrne Gets His Chance

After two years on special teams, junior tight end Jake Byrne has studied hard under the likes of Travis Beckum, Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks and is ready to use his what he's learned to fight for a starting spot.

Badger Nation: It's been awhile since we've heard from you, but how have you progressed in your third spring practice since arriving here on campus?

Jake Byrne: Well when you first get here, everything is thrown at you at once. There's a lot to take in. After a few years, you start to get a hang of the offense and start to feel comfortable in what you are doing. When you start to feel comfortable, everything feels easier. Everything slows down, breaks down and everything starts to come together.

Badger Nation: If your head was spinning then, where is your head at now going into your third year?

Jake Byrne: I am feeling pretty confident right now. I feel that I am a lot better with the offense and know what to do. Not necessarily of knowing what exactly to do, but executing the technique and just getting all the little things that turn out to be a big part of the offense.

Badger Nation: Was it hard to look at the light at the end of the tunnel when you have guys like Travis Beckum, Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks clogging up the depth chart?

Jake Byrne: It was actually kind of a blessing to be behind those guys. I mean, Garrett, Mickey Turner, Lance and Travis were all nice about showing me what they have learned from over the years. It helps learning from a guy like Garrett. If I messed up on a play, he would come over and tell me when he would do, either cutting inside or work off a block and show me different steps. He's having a lot of success doing those things, so I might as well follow his footsteps.

Badger Nation: Have you turned into a Garrett Graham?

Jake Byrne: I would say so. Garrett Graham is a great player and it would be a great compliment to say I was Garrett Graham. That's the kind of thing you drive to be. Everyday I work hard to be a Garrett Graham type tight end in this offense, and become that good.

Badger Nation: What's been the biggest area you have grown in this spring, seeing as there is a position open now opposite Lance and you are fighting to get time in the spot?

Jake Byrne: It's really all about being consistent and showing the coaches that you can take care of it. It's showing them you can be the guy and they can count on. If you can make the play and do your job, they're going to put you in a situation to be successful.

Badger Nation: How has Coach Joe Rudolph impacted your development?

Jake Byrne: Oh, he's been great. I couldn't have asked for a better coach. He really helps you with the little things. If you go up and watch film with him, he'll take you through all the things you've done wrong and the things you can do better on the plays you did well on. He's always pushing us every single day, and it's a blessing to have such a great coach behind us.

Badger Nation: You are entering your third week practices, what are the biggest steps you have seen yourself take to get to the point that you want to get?

Jake Byrne: I just feel that I starting to become a more consistent blocker on the line. I got against J.J. Watt everyday and he's making me better everyday. He's one of the best defensive ends in the Big Ten ant the nation. I just feel like I am become a more all-around tight end, making the plays in the passing game and the run game. I just want to be the guy that can be counted on.

Badger Nation: Coming in the spring that you did, do you feel in retrospect that it was the right decision for you and how happy are you with that decision?

Jake Byrne: I believe that it has progressed me. Going through 15 practices and doing that spring game, it tales you that far ahead Then you go into the summer knowing everything. It's just a progression. Some guys it comes to real fast and other guys just try to get the hang of things. Tight ends if ne of the more complicated positions on this team. Coming in early just helped me along.

Badger Nation: How have you changed since the fall in terms of strength and weight?

Jake Byrne: I just feel that I put the right weight on to get up to 255 to 260. I am feeling strong in the weight room. I am feeling loose working with the strength coaches, flexibility and shoulder mobility to just become a little more flexible and faster also.

Badger Nation: Do you feel as confident in the offense as you feel with your body right now as you have in your tenure here?

Jake Byrne: I feel the best I have since I have been here. I am feeling strong and a lot more flexible that the past, which has pulled me back by me getting tight. It's helped me a lot. Badger Nation: Does that excite you for the chance to start in the fall?

Jake Byrne: It's been great. The coaches have given me a chance to prove myself and I am working hard daily to give myself the chance.

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