February 5, 2009

Newcomers adjust to college life

MADISON, Wis. - For most high school seniors around the country, the final semester of their high school days are ones that are usually spent with family and friends. Those last days are typically filled with senior proms, basketball games and graduation ceremonies. Unless, the same high school seniors have ambitions of playing on the division one football level and decided to enroll early.

"It was actually pretty difficult," quarterback prospect Jon Budmayr said at signing day in regards to graduating early. "It was easy at the time I guess, but as you get closer to it, it gets a little more difficult leaving the family and friends. I guess not until you get up here on campus this is it and you're in college."

Anytime someone makes the transition from high school to college, an adjustment period is necessary to get into the flow of the new lifestyle. When those same campus newcomers are part of the Wisconsin football team, that new step is even more amplified.

When the spring semester started nearly three weeks ago, four early enrollees from the 2009 recruiting class, Budmayr, as well as Travis Frederick, Jordan Kohout and David Gilbert, were already on campus after just being high school seniors prior to the holidays.

"It's definitely different, that's for sure," Frederick, an offensive lineman prospect and Walworth (WI) native, said. "But it's really nice. The transition for me has been really easy. My home is about an hour away so I can make it home fairly quickly.

"To be here and be in classes and have the support of the other offensive guys, the other football players, it's really great."

While Frederick is only a matter of minutes away from the familiar setting of his hometown, others, such as Florida native David Gilbert, cannot get home as easily. Thus, knowing other players from his area are present on the team makes it easier for him to adjust.

"I talked to Elijah Hodge a lot," Gilbert said. "Just the players from Florida who are in my area that I (was) kind of watching are the ones I really talked to a lot."

Because the team is currently in the winter conditioning phase of the year-round process, there is no practice going on. So, in the early stages of the semester, before spring ball ensues, the newcomers are focusing on getting used to the academic differences at the new level.

"Wisconsin's a very difficult school academically," Budmayr explained. "That's one of the things that I'm learning. You have to put in all the time to be successful in academics. At first it was a little overwhelming, but really, I'm enjoying every second of it."

But at first, when school had not started and the early enrollees first came onto campus, there was the ultimate adjustment period. They were on a sprawling university campus, did not know the ins and outs of the transportation system and were not quite sure what to do with their time.

Thus, a bond was developed between the four of them, one that will likely be carried onto the field in the coming months and years as they helped each other through the transition process.

"My roommate Travis Frederick bought a big flat screen T.V," defensive line prospect Jordan Kohout said. "So everybody always comes up to the room and we watch T.V. together. We take the bus to go to State Street, we get stuff to eat, and we just talk about where we're from. It's just nice to know people that are in your shoes and they've worked as hard as you have.

"We've all been supportive of each other."

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