Former Big Foot star Travis Frederick no ordinary UW freshman
Recording a 4.065 GPA as a senior at Walworth Big Foot High School, Frederick plans to major in computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin. 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.
But when the standout high school tackle graduated a semester early from Big Foot, so he could get a head start on learning UW’s complicated football offense, some questioned Frederick’s motives.
“I got the ‘Why would you do that?’ question a lot,” Frederick said here Sunday at UW’s football media day. “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 gotten 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 diligence has paid off. The true freshman could find himself in the starting offensive line when Wisconsin opens the 2009 season at home Sept. 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),” coach Bret Bielema said.
Since entering the UW in January, Frederick already has 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.
After helping his high school team to second place in the WIAA Division 4 state playoffs last fall, Frederick opened UW spring practices as the backup center. He 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 in an already-young offensive line, where the Badgers will have three new starters, Frederick’s participation and the knowledge he gained during spring practice already have 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.”
Frederick, a lineman of the year in the Rock Valley Conference the last three seasons and an Associated Press first-team all-state pick fall, always knew that playing for the Badgers was where he wanted to be.
So when Wisconsin offered Frederick a scholarship after the lineman impressed the coaching staff with the way he carried himself during UW’s three-day high school summer camp last year, he decision was made simple. He committed to the Badgers 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,” Frederick said 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.”
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 learned 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.”