Picking the Right Spot

While the scholarship offers didn't reflect it, Ethan Hemer thought of himself as a Division 1 athlete. When Wisconsin presented him with a walk-on opportunity, Hemer took it, and has taken advantage of it by providing depth at the defensive tackle position.

MADISON - Ethan Hemer was simply looking to get better as a football player. He studied his opportunities for both scholarships and walk-ons, looking at the programs, the facilities and, most importantly, the players.

Playing high school football only three hours from Madison, Hemer knew that four senior defensive tackles – Dan Cascone, Jordan Hein, Dan Moore and Jeff Stehle – would certainly be beneficial in his development.

"The seniors last year definitely taught the incoming freshmen a lot, not just the d-linemen, but at every position," Hemer said. "The seniors hand down critical information and key things to help us take their spots when they are gone. I learned so much sitting next to Jeff Stehle in meetings, just from him explaining the playbook to me."

The proof is in the pudding. Hemer was named the UW Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year and with those four seniors departing, has seen his position on the UW defensive line improve. With redshirt freshman Jordan Kohout out of the starting lineup with a knee injury, Hemer has gotten reps with the first-team defense opposite returning starter junior Patrick Butrym.

"I am very thankful to be where I am right now," Hemer said. "A year from now, I was happy just to be here and keep building on that. We'll see what happens down the road."

Named a first-team all-state lineman by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association and a second-team all-state selection by the AP as a senior, Hemer was the conference defensive player of the year, completing a career that totaled of 146 tackles, 47 TFLs and 11 QB sacks.

Even so, the suitors didn't barge down the door at little Medford High. Hemer had scholarships to Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Miami (OH), South Dakota State and a lot of other smaller schools. When the opportunity presented itself to come and walk-on at Wisconsin, Hemer figured he'd have a chance to prove himself.

"When the opportunity was given to me," Hemer said, "I certainly wanted to give it a shot."

Spending his first year getting used to the speed of the game and adding 40 pounds since last summer, the impression has certainly been made.

"Ethan does a lot of good things," Head Coach Bret Bielema said. "For Ethan to play, he's got to play with his feet under him. He's really good with his hands. He's extremely intelligent. He's really smart. He's just got to play with feet under him all the time, which just takes more and more reps, but Ethan is a guy that will definitely be in the mix."

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