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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


With injuries behind him, Hammond aims for starting role

Chase Hammond stood out in the Badger’s 2012 spring game April 28 with four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. With his ankle injury behind him, Hammond hopes for a starting spot opposite Jared Abbrederis.[/media-credit]

This past spring camp marked Chase Hammond’s most important month of collegiate football to date.

Entering his third year with the Wisconsin football program as a redshirt sophomore wide receiver out of Youngstown, Ohio, Hammond hadn’t quite been healthy since he broke his right ankle in his junior year of high school.

He underwent three surgeries on the same ankle since then and at one point his future in football began to look blurry. Following the first two operations, doctors speculated that football might no longer be in the cards for him. After the third, UW’s coaches began looking at him sideways, wondering if the health issues would ever end.


Hammond entered camp with his ankle troubles behind him and began work at a position where UW is still fishing for a starter opposite Jared Abbrederis. Hammond called it “do or die” time for himself, but once the spring game on April 4 came to pass, Hammond certainly achieved self-preservation.

With Abbrederis watching from the sidelines, Hammond stood out among the wideouts, catching four passes for 48 yards and a 7-yard touchdown. On more than one occasion, the 6-foot-5, 212-pound target showed off his lengthy wingspan, stretching and jumping for passes his defender had no hope of reaching.

“He’s a big guy and he can jump,” quarterback Joel Stave said. “He’s got big hands. He’s really nice to throw to.”

Although any quarterback would be happy to throw to a target the size of Hammond, there’s still plenty of work for the oft-injured wide receiver to accomplish before he can be a regular in the huddle.

Nevertheless, he felt that after the spring game he had demonstrated an ability to execute when it’s time to put on the game jersey.

“I really showed that when its time to play, I can make plays,” Hammond said. “I really think that that’s been big on me. I may not always have the best practices but that’s what practice is for.”

Hammond’s return to full strength from the broken ankle was a long and arduous one that imprinted its timeline in his mind. On the spot, he can recall the exact date when the entire ordeal began: Aug. 22, 2008.

He had six screws and a plate put in his ankle as a result of the injury, and by the time he arrived to play at Wisconsin two years later, the screws became bothersome and so he went under the knife a second time to get them removed. All the while, doubt about the future of his career percolated.

The ankle continued to cause problems, and on Aug. 4 of last year, as Hammond recalls, he underwent another procedure.

“I had a lot of scar tissue, bone chips, things floating around – torn ligaments,” Hammond said. “[The doctor] went in, cleaned all that up, smoothed out my cartilage, and it’s been working great ever since.”

The procedure removed Hammond from play just as another season began, but he eventually got back into the groove of things. In week 10, in preparation for a game against Purdue, Hammond was named UW’s scout team player of the week.

“I’ve been hanging out for a while up here, I’m kind of tired of that,” Hammond said. “I’m ready to play, I’m feeling great, my body’s feeling great.”

Hammond’s performance in the spring game highlighted and concluded the bumpy road that he and the rest of the wide receivers walked on throughout spring. Across the board, UW’s wideouts struggled to gain separation from defenders and consistently hold on to passes during practice.

“I think he made some steps this spring at certain times during practice,” Bielema said. “I’m excited because I think it’s there. He’s only a sophomore, so he’s got a lot of good football, hopefully, in front of him.”

Now it’s on to the summer, where the team won’t be able to hold formal practices until August. In the meantime, Hammond said he hopes to add some weight onto his “kind of lanky” frame – as Bielema would describe it – over the course of the three-month lull.

And, despite his encouraging performance in the spring game, Hammond knows there’s plenty of work to be done on his technique if he is to thrive as a wide receiver in the Big Ten.

“Talking to [wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni], there’s a lot of things going on,” he said. “I might have looked like I had a good day to everybody but between me and him we know there’s a lot of things that need to be fixed.”

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