December 17, 2009

Wozniak learning from veteran tight ends

MADISON - Brian Wozniak understands the tradition and success that Wisconsin tight ends have had over the past decade. Now, with Garrett Graham completing his career, and with a year in the program, Wozniak is hoping to become one of the next impressive players at the position.

At the conclusion of a practice earlier this week, caught up with the Ohio native. The following is a question and answer with Wozniak.

I just wanted to catch up with you and talk about how your first season went. Did it live up to expectations?

Wozniak: Oh yeah, definitely. It was a lot of fun. We had some surprising things finally playing division one football, but it fun. I had a great time my first year meeting all the guys, meeting my class and meeting the older guys. It was a good time I thought.

Was it hard getting into the adjustment of getting into college life?

Wozniak: It was hard…For instance, in high school you would have a two-hour practice and go home. When you're playing division one football, you're having two-hour practice plus another hour of film plus staying here and getting some treatments taken care of. Then you go to study table. Time wise it was a little different, but you adjust to it pretty quick.

How long does that take?

Wozniak: It probably took me to the third week and third game.

How about learning the playbook? How tough was that?

Wozniak: Learning the playbook was probably my biggest thing in fall camp. The first week, me and the other freshman tight end Jacob Pederson, we were wide-eyed for a little bit. The second week came in and we got into it a little bit more. I started understanding my position a lot more. Then it finally came where I understood the whole overall picture.

Do you feel like you have it down now or are you still learning?

Wozniak: I mean, I would say I have about half of it down now for sure. There's the other half and stuff they installed now that sometimes goes over my head a little bit just being a freshman tight end. Especially with the way we use our tight ends.

Is Pederson the same way?

Wozniak: Honestly, Pederson's position, I play the Y which is like Garrett. He plays the H and the H is a little bit different because he moves around so much. About a combination of (Mickey Turner and Lance Kendricks), so he's getting it down a lot more. But his position is definitely a lot harder than mine.

Just talk about these older guys like Garrett and Lance. What have you been learning from these guys?

Wozniak: With Garrett, it's getting your technique down. He's a real good technician. If you watch him, he doesn't miss a step. He stays low on his blocks. He hustles out on his routes. He makes crisp cuts. Watching Lance, it's the same exact thing. He doesn't say anything to the coaches and he doesn't say anything in the huddle. He just goes out there and does his job and gets it done. As you can see on the field, it's paying off.

Is that the kind of approach you like to take?

Wozniak: That's my approach. I'm a real quiet player on the field. I'll talk to my players, but I like the way they approach the game.

Just moving forward and looking back. Did you add weight at all this year?

Wozniak: I added about 15 pounds.

What are you at right now?

Wozniak: 245.

Is that where you want to be?

Wozniak: Yeah, I probably want to be right around 250 or 253 during spring ball.

Is that what you think is needed to get through a Big Ten season?

Wozniak: I think it's needed to get through the Big Ten season. I think the strength is needed to get through the Big Ten season. Especially if you look at the defensive ends in the Big Ten this year. It was probably the year of the defensive end. Every team had a new and different guy that was just as good. So definitely strength and weight is good.

Is that one of the more underrated aspects of being a tight end, blocking?

Wozniak: I'll be honest, I even thought coming here that I was going to be a catching tight end. But no, you've got to focus on you're blocking and then you'll get your passes. Kind of like for every 10 blocks you get a good pass thrown to you. So, that's kind of how you have to take it for a tight end.

Did you choose Wisconsin based off the tight end history here?

Wozniak: Obviously looking at the tight ends here, you have Owen Daniels, Travis Beckum and now Garrett and you've got Lance right behind him. Those are all great tight ends. So coming here and playing with that and being able to watch them is fun. Plus, the tight ends coach Joe Rudolph is a great guy.

I was talking to the other guys here to, and you probably heard me, but every time I come around here during bowl prep it seems like the younger guys, the scout team guys, are pretty excited to practice because you get to do Wisconsin vs. Wisconsin stuff. Is that the same for you?

Wozniak: It's a lot more fun. We've been doing scout and getting beat up all year, not beat up per se, but kind of taking the foul for the other team. Being able to do our stuff is a lot of fun. Being able to get coached again and being yelled at again is fun.

Is it kind of fun doing scout team, too when you get to imitate other players?

Wozniak: It's fun because you get to watch other tight ends from different leagues. For instance, I have been able to watch the Miami tight end and it's fun to watch him and learn from him and then be able to learn from Garrett at the same time. So it's nice. It just gets a little like every other play you just go.

What are you looking forward to here moving into winter conditioning and spring camp?

Wozniak: Winter conditioning definitely getting bigger, faster and stronger. Come spring ball, I want to fight for a position definitely. It's definitely my big goal to fight for playing time. Hopefully just being able to carry this season to next season and being able to not have a dropout as much after losing Mickey and Garrett. So, hopefully we'll have another great season next year.

Are the coaches telling you that you have a shot to get in there for playing time next year?

Wozniak: Coach always tells me as long as I learn the playbook and get bigger that there's always a shot for playing time. Basically what he says is that my playing time is on me. However I react to it, pretty much.

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