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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Travis Frederick: Quietly making history for Badgers

First year center Travis Frederick became the only true freshman in Wisconsin history to open the season among the starting offensive linemen.[/media-credit]

Last Saturday’s Wisconsin football game was a day of firsts. It was the first start by junior Scott Tolzien at UW and marked the first time a Badger quarterback threw for more than 250 yards in his first turn as the No. 1 signal caller.

It was the first time on the field for newcomers J.J. Watt and Mike Taylor — who caused the first turnover of the season — who helped lead the Badgers to their first victory of the season with some strong defensive play.

Perhaps most impressive of them all, however, would be someone who touched the ball every single snap on offense: true freshman center Travis Frederick.


Not only did Frederick make his first start as a Badger, but it was also the first time in 120 years of UW football history a true freshman opened the season as one of the top five offensive linemen.

“There were nerves in pre-game, coming out, etc.,” Frederick said. “But after the first play everything just kind of felt natural. I was a little bit nervous knowing we were throwing the big pass, but after that I calmed down a bit.”

Although Frederick didn’t gain the starting spot until incumbent junior John Moffitt went down with a pectoral injury, the Sharon, Wis., native was ready to step in due to enrolling at Wisconsin a semester early. Able to participate in spring camp, Frederick believes learning the playbook allowed him to shine this fall.

“I think [spring] helped me a lot,” he said. “To come in here and already know the playbook and the nuances of the position — it really has helped. To make a transition from high school to college in one camp is difficult because it takes two or three weeks to learn the playbook, let alone start getting into the little things, so being here in spring’s really helped a lot.”

While preparing for his first start, Frederick took advice from anyone who would offer it. The less-than-bashful Moffitt was more than willing to offer up his sage wisdom.

“I was just telling him little things, like something about technique or any type of call that he needed,” Moffitt said. “But he has a pretty good grasp on it, and realistically, he didn’t need a whole lot of coaching up. I just tried to give him a tip here and there, you know, things that have helped me in the past.”

Starting left tackle Gabe Carimi had much simpler advice.

“I told him it is just like practice,” Carimi said. “I told him you just have to go out there and play like practice. That is how you have to think about it. We have ‘repped’ it so many times in practice that it is exactly like a game.”

Listed at 6-foot-4, Frederick carries 336 pounds on his frame, preparing him for the rigors of Big Ten play. Since he was a weightlifter and wrestler in high school, lack of strength isn’t an issue at the college level like it is for most first year players.

“He is stronger than I am and squats more than I do,” Moffitt said. “He has a strong bench and is strong all around. I think that has helped him with the physicality of this school and playing the teams that we have on our schedule.”

Although superior strength automatically calls to mind a run-blocking beast, Frederick doesn’t necessarily agree. Like a true Wisconsin lineman, he takes pride in all facets of his game.

“I think that I am more balanced,” Frederick said. “Because of my short legs and my body type, naturally I would be better at pass blocking because I have a lower center of gravity and things like that. But I think that I am pretty much equal in both.”

During the game, a center has the responsibilities of switching protection schemes based on the defense. According to his fellow linemen, Frederick — a mechanical engineering major — wasn’t overwhelmed at all with the mental game that occurs pre-snap.

“He made the calls when I needed them,” Carimi said. “There were a couple of calls that I didn’t get, and he saw them.”

Assuming Moffitt returns against Fresno State this weekend — a question offensive line coach Bob Bostad responded to with “I don’t know” — Frederick will return to the bench. In an attitude that will make UW head coach Bret Bielema happy, however, Frederick gladly acknowledges this is the best move for the team.

“I think John is a great guy, and I think that he deserves the position,” Frederick said. “If he can come out there and play at the level that he has played at before, I’d love it. If he is at 100 percent, he is going to make the team better.”

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