Frederick ready for UW opener
MADISON Asked about the opportunity to be a part of University of Wisconsin football history, freshman lineman Travis Frederick showed no signs of nerves, chills or butterflies.
Thankfully for the UW coaching staff, the first-year lineman from Walworth Big Foot High School worked all those inhibiting traits out in the spring.
“Coming here in the spring, being on campus, going to classes, lifting, going to meetings, getting the plays down and practicing has helped my head from spinning,” Frederick said. “I can’t imagine trying to figure it out if I started three weeks ago.”
The decision to come on campus early and take repetitions at center and guard made Frederick the easy choice to fill in for injured junior center John Moffitt (strained pectoral muscle) throughout the three weeks of fall camp.
With Moffitt still working his way back into the fold, the 18-year-old Frederick is expected to start at center here Saturday in the Badgers’ 6 p.m. nonconference opener against Northern Illinois.
The last freshman to start in UW’s offensive line was Cory Raymer in 1991, who went on to earn All-America honors. Perusing through the Wisconsin archives, it appears only two other players have accomplished that feat—Dennis Lick (1972) and Bob Winckler (1979).
“I was told that it’s been 18 years,” the 6-foot-4, 336-pound Frederick said. “It doesn’t happen too often. I mean, the last time it happened was 1991, which was the year I was born.”
Has there been a true freshman to start in the offensive line for a season opener? The UW athletic communications staff has been searching the archives for the answer, all the more ammunition to the rareness of the event and a credit to Frederick’s immense ability to get up to speed quickly.
Working at center and left guard during spring camp, Frederick’s natural maturity and ability to read his blocking keys made him standout to the coaching staff. And he closed camp as the No. 2 guard.
When Moffitt was injured lifting weights in late July, Frederick was told he was moving back to center, this time with the No. 1 unit. So far, there have been no reservations with Frederick starting in his first game at the most complex position in the offensive line.
“He’s done a great job of filling the void that was there,” offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. “You appreciate that. He gives us the best chance right now.”
Although he hit the obligatory freshman wall during the second week of camp, Frederick worked with the first-team offense for 22 of the 24 practices, finishing camp as the clear-cut answer to an injury-riddled UW offensive line.
“I like the fact that during fall camp he’s been able to handle that and kind of had a little bit of a valley there,” Bielema said. “He (came) back out of it and has really put me in a position this week. I’m not hesitant to see him play. I’m excited to watch him play.”
Frederick isn’t the only one Bielema is excited to watch on Saturday. Wisconsin’s 103-man roster consists of 46 freshmen, 25 sophomores, 16 juniors and 16 seniors. Of the 55 players listed on the offensive and defensive depth chart, only 10 are seniors and 31 are freshmen or sophomores, which means there’ll beplenty of nervous youngsters in UW’s locker room.
Thanks to the hours of labor he has put in since stepping onto the campus in January, Frederick won’t be one of them.
“We’re young, but that’s what makes us hard to prepare for,” said Frederick. “We just need to go out and do what we’ve been doing for all of camp.”