Frederick goes from starter to spectator
MADISON When he stepped into the University of Wisconsin weight room, Travis Frederick was surrounded by media members, anxious to hear what it felt like to make history.
The history Frederick created was special considering the school he was playing for, as he became the first true freshman offensive lineman to ever start a season opener when he took snaps at center against Northern Illinois last season.
In three games this season, instead of heading toward the media, Frederick heads to his locker, puts on his charcoal double-breasted suit, grabs his leather garment bag and heads through a side door so he can go mingle with family members.
Things certainly have changed. And if nothing else changes this season, Frederick will redshirt and have three seasons of football eligibility remaining.
“Yeah, it’s definitely different,” said Frederick. “Game prep is definitively different playing with the twos, and it’s different watching how everybody else is preparing for things. I still have to be prepared, even though I’m not really going to play.”
After the freshman season Frederick had, it would seem natural to assume that the former Walworth Big Foot High standout would be involved in some means throughout the nonconference season, especially in No. 11 Wisconsin’s final nonconference game against Austin Peay on Saturday at Camp Randall.
After losing his starting center job due to an ankle injury in the second week of last season, Frederick started the final two games at left guard, including Wisconsin’s bowl win over Miami. That happened after his replacement, center Peter Konz, came down with a heart ailment. Starting two games each at center and left guard and playing them admirably, Frederick felt he had a good chance to earn his starting job back in fall camp.
But with returning linemen who combined to start 104 games in their careers, Frederick was fighting an uphill battle, especially since Konz’s nine starts in 2009 came with no sizeable problems and built a comfort level among the senior-laden group.
When junior Jake Current returned at the beginning of the season from knee surgery, giving UW a legitimate third option at center behind Konz and John Moffitt, the coaching staff felt Wisconsin had sufficient depth at the interior line positions to survive without Frederick.
“He is kind of in the same boat with Zach Brown,” UW coach Bret Bielema said, referring to UW’s senior tailback, who is No. 4 on the depth chart. “Jake has played center and guard for us. So if there is a way for us to get Travis through this year, we will.”
Approached by Bielema and Bob Bostad, the offensive line coach, about saving a year of eligibility, Frederick weighed the pros and cons. Without being guaranteed a starting spot and only playing on punt and field goal teams, versus having three seasons of eligibility remaining, the situation—while tough to take—was an easy one.
“If I’m really not going to get a good chance at playing time, it’s going to give me a good chance to fight for a spot next year,” Frederick said. “A lot of guys have stepped up and played really well, which put me in position to not have a starting spot, and I’m OK with that.”
The focus has narrowed for Frederick with having four starts under his belt. Working primarily with the second-team offense during practice, Frederick has used his game experience to focus on techniques, little nuiances with his football and the other minor things that elevate him ahead of where a normal sophomore should be.
“I know what it’s like to play against a team like Miami, and I can now really study the game of football,” Frederick said. “(My competitive fire) is growing in me, because it’s difficult to sit here and watch. I started four games last year and feel that I’m good enough to be playing, but there are guys that are better than me, and I have to wait my turn.
“Anybody that is competitive, that is going to rumble inside of you. It just keeps growing and growing, making me want to be out there even more. I think that’s going to have a good impact on me next year.”