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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Podcast: Interview with Badgers’ tight end Isaac Townsend

Sports editor Sam Harrigan discusses transferring, experience playing with Badgers, balancing athletics, school
Justin Mielke
Badgers Football Team

Jeffrey Deiss (0:00)
Hi everyone, this is Jeff, Director of The Badger Herald podcast. In this episode, you’re going to hear Badger Herald sports editor Sam Harrigan interview Isaac Townsend, a defensive end for the Wisconsin Badgers football team.

Sam Harrigan (0:34)
Alrighty, Isaac, thanks again for being here, we are happy to have you this afternoon. Just first thing’s first, how’s your season? How’s it going? Updates? How you feeling?

Isaac Townsend (0:46)
It’s good, man. You know, we had a little bit of a rough start, but we’re turning things around. And you know, we’re making the best of it. So…


Harrigan (0:54)
Feel good about the rest of the way how it’s gonna go here?

Townsend (0:57)
Oh, yeah.

Harrigan (0:58)
Good. Good. Glad to hear, glad to hear well, a little bit less on season. You know, one of the big things that we do a pretty good job of keeping up with the team on-season but more specifically for you what is — a what is like a typical offseason like? What do you do? What is it more so like a time to focus on, you know, school or other interests? Are you still just kind of working out every day getting ready for the season to start? What’s that like for you?

Townsend (1:21)
Yeah, so I mean, in the wintertime is probably one we have a lot of time on our own. And so we’ll do some sort of weights or conditioning in the morning, and then we have more time for school or you know, a lot of people have different hobbies and stuff. There’s more to life than just football, right? So, you know, it’s kind of a lot. It’s a good time for guys to hang out with each other, do stuff outside of football. And then you know, we do spring ball, which is a different story. And then in the summertime, there’s a lot of film and stuff with the coaches but it’s similar to where also was summer conditioning and also some time for hobbies.

Harrigan (1:58)
How was that adjustment of coming over here? Transferring and how was that like first offseason? Did it — was it similar to what you were you were used to in Oregon? Or was it just a completely different structure and things here?

Townsend (2:10)
It was completely different. I mean, Oregon’s plays you know, it’s West Coast football different style from the Big 10 compared to the PAC 12. And I was playing outside backer a little bit inside backer so I mean, you know, I made the transition from outside backer to D line. And so I had a lot of changes just from an individual perspective, in terms of football, X’s and O’s, you know, trying to throw myself out there with a new new set of dudes and but it all it was all for good reasons. And it worked out pretty good for those me, those guys opened me up pretty nice, so.

Harrigan (2:44)
Other than football, what is that transition like to come over to the Midwest? And, I don’t know when you arrived on campus here, but I assume it was probably winter and freezing in Midwestern Wisconsin winter. What is that? What does that change adjustment, like from the West Coast?

Townsend (2:58)
Yeah, so I got here May of 2021. So I’ve been here for about 18 months now. And so I didn’t, I didn’t feel the winter until this last winter. But I’m actually pretty familiar with the Midwest, you know, my family’s from Kansas. So, you know different part of the Midwest, but it’s still, you know, I got a general idea of how it works. And so it was honestly a breath of fresh air to be back in the Midwest.

Harrigan (3:26)
Was that a big reason that — that you chose Wisconsin to come back over closer to the Midwest where maybe your family’s from? Or just something you’re a little bit more comfortable with? Or what was like the big reason of you deciding to transfer and come over to Wisconsin?

Townsend (3:40)
Oh, man, I mean, as soon as I got the call from Jim Leonard and our D line coach, the old head strength and conditioning coach, man, I mean, it’s tough to just the the opportunity that lives here, and football was great. And then I’m studying agriculture business. So that turned out to you know, Wisconsin’s a pretty good agriculture school. And then I feel comfortable in the Midwest, it’s my type of culture. You know, it’s where I want to live, better than South after school and football. So, you know, I feel it was — it was a pretty well-rounded decision.

Harrigan (4:11)
Well, I mean, you mentioned Jim Leonard now — now head coach, Jim Leonard, being one of the first people to reach out to you what is that transition like for you to, for you to have that guy that kind of brought you in now take over the reins of the program? Is that something you’re comfortable with? Happy to see him, you know, moving up, moving up a tier?

Townsend (4:27)
Well, Coach Chryst brought me in here as well. And, you know, I think I can speak for the rest of my teammates, like, we all love him, you know, so it was honestly a shock to see how that went down. It’s been, it’s been a pretty good transition. Because Jim, if there’s anyone who could, you know, take on the torch, so to speak, it is Jim Leonard. And, you know, I got — I got all the confidence in the world and um, you know, I trust him with my life. So, I’m definitely happy it’s him, but it’s also been tough with Coach Chryst leaving as well.

Harrigan (4:58)
You’re just kind of going through adjustment after adjustment in transferring here. So that’s definitely no small thing to see. But you also say the agriculture business is that — that’s your major?

Townsend (5:08)

Harrigan (5:09)
What are you looking to do with that? What’s — what’s postgrad plans looking like?

Townsend (5:13)
Oh, man, so I got a couple ideas. I mean, I want to go — we have a feedlot in Kansas, I want to go back to that. Or, you know, in Wisconsin, honestly, how people run their cattle or industrial construction.

Harrigan (5:27)
So you are a big outdoors farm kind of guy ready to be out there working with your hands? Yeah, that’s good to hear. But what does that day-to-day look like for you now in doing a major like that, that as you said, it is a good program here. It’s one of our better programs at Wisconsin. I can’t imagine that you don’t have anything else to do other than football. I’m sure you’re busy with classes. What does that like for you that to be able to manage you know, classwork, as well as football and any other interests that you have outside of that?

Townsend (5:55)
Time management is important for everyone, right, so like, you know, as long as I can take care of football in school, then it’s really not that hard. So sometimes you’ve got to put one thing to the side and do the other. But, you know, it’s just kind of all the same to get used to, I’m sure you’re a busy guy, too. So like, it’s just, it’s just another thing. It’s, I’m happy to be doing it.

Harrigan (6:13)
You’re used to it by now.

Townsend (6:14)

Harrigan (6:15)
Is that — did they have a similar program in Oregon? Or were you doing something completely different before you transferred in here?

Townsend (6:21)
In Oregon, I was thinking either business or prelaw, criminal justice in society. So honestly, completely different route, I was wanting to do agriculture. So I was honestly just getting a degree to get into, you know, something more blue-collar and all that. But that was, you know, just two different types of schools, right.

Harrigan (6:39)
Worked out for you a little bit?

Townsend (6:41)
Yeah, yeah.

Harrigan (6:42)
Well, that’s good to hear. Well, I guess back on the football path of things. It’s kind of a broader question, who do you think is the most talented player you’ve played with? You’ve played at two big power five schools that are both have been loaded with talent and your time there. Is there one guy that sticks above the rest? No pressure.

Townsend (7:04)
That’s a tough question. I mean, I say I’ve been blessed to be around a ton of talent. I’ll probably have to say the one that I can remember as of right now, not thinking about it, right. Probably have to say redshirt freshman year at Oregon playing with Justin Herbert. I was on scout team playing against Justin Herbert and well, pretty crazy.

Harrigan (7:28)
That counts for something. Now you said you said red shirt. What is that redshirt season like? Is that a hard transition for a lot of players to come in? You know, you were obviously I’m sure this star at your high school played all the downs, played all the snaps you come in — in red shirt. And all of a sudden you essentially don’t play as much football as you’re used to. Is that a weird transition that — that one year there?

Townsend (7:51)
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely weird redshirting. And you know, I wouldn’t say a lot of guys want to red shirt. But I mean, it’s kind of one of those things. You know, when you face reality some guys are — a lot of guys coming out of high school aren’t ready to play college because of the adjustment and speed physicality and knowledge and stuff. And so, you know, for most of the guys who have to redshirt it’s honestly what you make of it, right? I mean, I think my redshirt year personally, for me, I think it went pretty good. I mean, I put on 30 pounds, you know, and I just learned a lot from guys like Justin Herbert and other guys on the defensive side of the ball. And you know, kind of as a redshirt freshman, it gives you a chance to kind of get acclimated to college life as well. And so I wouldn’t say people look to do it. It’s not necessarily a dream to do. But it can be pretty beneficial. If you use it the right way.

Harrigan (8:45)
You say it worked out for you and helps you become a better student, person, player all around? Well, that’s good to hear. I guess just kind of — kind of one last thing kind of on that same same wavelength, the best best player is there a game that sticks out that you played in one game that, you know, you would put above the rest as either personal performance or team just just happy to be there. Any level high school, college, whatever it may be. I’m hitting you with a tough one.

Townsend (9:14)
I’ll say this is a pretty tough question. I’ve been been a part of some good ones. Luckily, I don’t know if I could answer that question.

Harrigan (9:21)
That’s fair, that’s fair.

Townsend (9:22)
I’ve been, I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of some pretty cool games. So like I’d be, I’d be lying if I pick one over the other.

Harrigan (9:29)
That’s good to hear. Well, hopefully, we can get you a couple more of those here and here and the rest of your time here at Wisconsin where we’re about due for another Rose Bowl. So hopefully we can get you out there. Man. I’ll ask you, I’ll ask you one more question kind of on your personal level. It’s NIL has been a pretty big discussion or both beneficial and negative for a lot of guys, but is there anything that NIL has done for you personally that you didn’t think might be possible in college any opportunities or, or any kind of cool sponsorships that you’ve been able to be a part of?

Townsend (10:00)
Yeah so honestly, on an individual level, I’ve had a couple opportunities, but I’m not a big social media guy. And so I don’t really go looking for it unless it comes and finds me. And if I think, because whatever you signed your name with, that’s kind of quote-unquote, what you what you believe in. And so I’m pretty conscious of that. And so I passed up a couple opportunities. And I’m also going through injury right now so I’m kind of focused on that more than anything. But I mean, it is a positive way for players to make money and kind of, you know, withdrawal some of the stuff that they put into the university, right, and so I do think it’s a positive thing, but sometimes it can get in the way of what’s real, and what can be a distraction.

Podcast: Fast fashion

Harrigan (10:48)
And being in a business-related major, do you think that helps you kind of understand, you know, some of the more surface-level business ideas of protecting yourself and your personal brand? That’s something that —

Townsend (11:00)
I think so.

Harrigan (11:01)
— is a big positive of it. Yeah, I teach guys about, you know, contract negotiations and, and what’s important to them, that’s something big.

Townsend (11:09)
Yeah, you know, I mean, I’m sure you guys know like, when you sign your name to something like you got a hold, you got to hold up to it, you’re, you’re holding yourself accountable. You’re, you know, there’s money involved. That’s not a big that’s not a that’s not something to be played with. So, you know, you got to make sure you read all of it and, you know, it just kind of teaches you to be careful. So,

Harrigan (11:30)
Alrighty Isaac, so that’s pretty much all we got for you. I appreciate you spending some time here this afternoon helping us out a little bit.

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