|Sharon's Travis Frederick ready for Nebraska Cornhuskers|
|Sharon's Travis Frederick ready for Nebraska Cornhuskers|
|Written by Thom Aiello/For Walworth County Sunday|
|Thursday, 29 September 2011 12:04|
Travis Frederick starts on the offensive line for the Wisconsin Badgers. Taking a redshirt year last year allowed him more time to spend in the weight room and in the film room, which has benefitted him on the field, Frederick said. David Stluka/Wisconsin Athletic Communications photo.
MADISON — The community of Sharon is known for its large classic car show each year. Well, move over Model A’s, because the latest “big” newsmaker from Sharon is Travis Frederick, who is expected to start on the offensive line Saturday when Wisconsin takes on Nebraska in the Cornhusker's first Big 10 game.
Frederick, a redshirt sophomore, is a 6-foot-4, 330-pound athlete who built his reputation in Walworth County while playing for Big Foot High School in Walworth. Frederick was UW’s first freshman who ever started a season-opening game as an offensive lineman when he played center. A high ankle sprain limited his playing time that season. Then, last year, Frederick decided to take a redshirt season for the Badgers. That allows him to play three more seasons.
“Going into last year, I didn’t know what would happen,” Frederick said in a phone interview after a recent practice. He said he talked with the coaches and agreed to take the redshirt season.
“I think it was a real good opportunity for me. I feel like I got a lot more experience and it was a good time to spend in the film room and the weight room,” he said. “I was able to learn from John Moffitt, Gabe Carimi and Bill Nagy by watching them.”
Those three Badger offensive linemen last season ended up being drafted by National Football League teams. Carimi, a tackle, was a first-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears; Moffitt, a guard, went in the third round to the Seattle Seahawks and Nagy, an offensive lineman who is playing center, was selected in the seventh round by the Dallas Cowboys. The three had numerous collegiate awards and led the Badgers to an 11-2 record and a Rose Bowl berth.
There has been talk that Frederick, at left guard, and redshirt junior Ricky Wagner, at left tackle, could one day equal the success of Carimi and Moffitt. However, Frederick had no intention of confirming those thoughts.
“We really don’t look into things like that. We know where we are,” Frederick said. “We have a long ways to go. We can only aspire (to be as good as Carimi and Moffitt).”
Frederick’s ambitious aspirations are no surprise to people who knew him back home.
“I had Travis since 4-year-old kindergarten. He’s a great kid; he’s just a real quality human being,” said Dorothy Kaufmann, who started the 4-year-old kindergarten program at Sharon Elementary School in 1985. Kaufmann was the principal and administrator at Sharon, which is a feeder school to Big Foot.
“He cares deeply about people,” she said. “Always through school, he was a leader. He would be the first one to help other students. He’s one of my favorites.”
By coincidence, Kaufmann had more years watching Frederick in school. She retired in August 2006, but was then asked to be Big Foot’s district administrator for one year. Now she’s in her fifth year, so her path crossed Frederick’s all the way through his high school years.
“People are watching Travis play football (at UW). He has a tremendous following,” Kaufmann said. “People watching in Sharon are so proud of him and who he has become.”
His high school football coach also recalled the all-around person that is Frederick.
“I just think if I had to pick one kid to represent Big Foot on a big stage, it would be him,” said Coach Rodney Wedig of the Chiefs. “He’s the kind of person who is really driven.”
Frederick was a three-year starter for Big Foot. Each season he was named as the Rock Valley Conference lineman of the year. A two-way player, Frederick broke an arm during his senior season but continued to play.
Frederick was the second family member to play for Big Foot, following brother Tyler, who was the quarterback on the first Big Foot team to win a playoff game in 2006. Another brother, Collin, plays for the Chiefs now as a sophomore.
“It was not just about football,” said Tim Collins, the Big Foot athletic director. “He also handled everything with class.
“I think with Travis’ success at UW, it puts Big Foot on the map. It brings a lot of creditability to our program.”
Collins said it is exciting to watch the Badgers with Frederick, but he finds himself focused on the linemen, whereas most people focus on who is throwing or running with the ball.
“Also, you hope you don’t hear his name,” added Collins, noting that if Frederick’s name is not mentioned, that means he is playing well and not getting called for a penalty. Thus is the life of an offensive lineman.
Frederick said he was noticed the most for recruiting when he attended a UW football camp after his junior year of high school. He said there were other football events leading to becoming a Badger.
“It followed a long process, but that (summer camp) put me on the radar with Wisconsin. They saw what I could do,” he said.
A big advantage for Frederick was to finish high school at the end of the first semester of his senior year. That allowed him to go to UW to participate in spring practice.
“Graduating early gave me a good jump to be able to learn the (UW) playbook,” Frederick said. “It was an advantage to be there in spring. It definitely helped right now.”
As co-class president, Frederick returned to Big Foot to participate in graduation ceremonies. He said he is thankful for the support he receives from local people.
“I really appreciate everything. It’s nice that I can go home and talk to people,” he said. “That means a lot to me.”
Kaufmann, a Badgers fan who said she has become even a bigger fan since Frederick plays there, enjoys watching him play football on television.
“I hope he is injury free and has a great career there,” she said.
Frederick has had a few injuries at UW, including the ankle problem as a freshman. In the Badgers’ 2011 season-opening game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Frederick suffered a sprained ligament in his left knee. That kept him out of action for the second game, but he returned for the third one.
“The knee feels good,” Frederick said last week. “I am looking forward to (Big Ten) conference play.”
Wisconsin, which traditionally features a strong running attack, has that again, but it also has senior quarterback Russell Wilson aboard. He can throw and run well. Wilson started for three seasons at North Carolina State before trying to make it in baseball. With that behind him, he was free to pick another school for one year.
“He (Wilson) has really surprised me. It was fun to watch him learn the playbook,” Frederick said. “He picked up the playbook in two weeks. It was incredible to see.”
He did not say he preferred Wilson over others who competed for the starting job at quarterback.
“Everybody brings his own abilities,” said Frederick about who is playing in the offensive backfield. “Things are the same for us (as linemen).”
He said the players all know what they have to do to reach their potential. He also said that being the starting left guard is a “really good opportunity for me.”
Having the redshirt year also helps Frederick on the academic side, because he has a double major with computer engineering and computer science. He said it is a five-year program to graduate.
By that time, Frederick and his blocking mate Wagner will know if they reached or exceeded the levels of play of those who played the positions before them.
Or, as Frederick would likely put it, they will find out if the team accomplished its goals.
That’s just the kind of guy he is.