Abbrederis becoming main cog in UW offense

first_imgOn a team stacked with offensive talent, redshirt sophomore Jared Abbrederis has carried the ball 43 times this year, behind only tailbacks Montee Ball and James White.[/media-credit]Walk-ons always make for an encouraging story in college sports, mainly because of their humble beginnings and goals.Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis certainly fits that storyline, but what sets him apart is the kind of impact he is making in just his third year in the program.The redshirt sophomore, who enjoyed an all-state career at quarterback in high school at Wautoma, has risen above the Badgers’ arsenal of offensive weapons to become one of its most sought-after ball carriers.Unsurprisingly, running backs Montee Ball and James White have carried the ball far more often than the rest of the team so far this year. But Abbrederis – who leads the team in receptions (30), takes end-arounds and acts as a return specialist – has carried the ball 43 times this year, third most on the team.And with that high a number of touches, Abbrederis is second on the team with 865 all-purpose yards, just 93 yards shy of first-place Ball.That is pretty good for guy who is still waiting for his scholarship – which will come in January.“Coming in (as a freshman), I just wanted to work as hard as I could to get the opportunities,” Abbrederis said. “I think with a lot of things, if you just work hard and you just keep improving, you’re going to get that opportunity and that chance.“I didn’t really know what the future held; I was just going to work and see what God had in store for me.”As a redshirt freshman last year, Abbrederis worked his way into a wide receiver rotation that was stacked with experience, finishing fifth on the team with 20 receptions and totaling 289 yards and three touchdowns.Once three of those wideouts graduated, experience in the unit suddenly became scarce beyond fifth-year senior Nick Toon. But Abbrederis stepped up in such a way that the Badger offense has been able to thrive without having to look beyond its top two targets at wide receiver.In leading the team in receptions, Abbrederis is second with 482 yards and has scored two touchdowns along the way.Based on what he saw during spring camp, Toon is not surprised with how Abbrederis has taken a featured role in the Wisconsin offense and special teams.“I knew that Jared had the capability to come in and fill the hole that was left when Kyle (Jefferson), David (Gilreath) and Isaac (Anderson) left,” Toon said. “Obviously he’s done a great job, and he’s been a big part of our success as an offense and in the passing game.”Understandably, the potential was not necessarily apparent from the beginningof Abbrederis’ career. Toon and offensive coordinator Paul Chryst both said they weren’t able to foresee what awaited him when he first arrived at UW. There were still things for the athletically gifted 6-foot-2, 180-pound wideout to work on.But wide receiver coach DelVaughn Alexander and Chryst don’t remember the former quarterback as a raw individual who needed an overhaul of work to make the transition.“I know raw, so I don’t remember him being that raw or that kind of raw,” Alexander said. “As the days went by, he learned pretty quickly. Sometimes you see raw and it takes months, years. But for Jared, his transition was pretty quick.”His natural athleticism has opened up other opportunities, as well. As a return specialist, Abbrederis currently leads the nation in yards per punt return with 22.3 and also zigzagged his way to a 60-yard return for a touchdown against Indiana.Chryst has also entrusted Abbrederis with taking the occasional end-around, a play that, by nature, is not always effective and is easy for a defense to sniff out once an offense runs it once. Nevertheless, Abbrederis has taken handoffs eight times this year and has averaged 9.1 yards on such plays.Sometimes, the demand can be a little taxing for the redshirt sophomore, but ultimately, it is no different than practice.“Once in a while, I can get a bit tired, but coach Alexander does a good job of getting me out if I need a water break or something,” Abbrederis said. “In practice, we do the same thing; we get a lot of reps, we do the special teams too, so practice prepares you for the game.”Against Michigan State alone, Abbrederis’ number was called 14 times – six receiving, four rushing and two each on punt and kick returns. He covered a total of 204 yards, and for the 10 times he received the ball on offense, he earned seven first downs.Overall, it was another productive night for Abbrederis. But if there is one play on offense he would still like to have back, it would be the deep pass he let slip through his hands in the fourth quarter.With less than eight minutes remaining and down 31-17, Wisconsin had the ball on its own 23-yard line. Quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back and heaved one downfield to Abbrederis, who had his man beat. But Abbrederis lost the ball as it floated past the lights and dropped a pass that would have put the Badgers at least within Michigan State’s 30-yard line.“Obviously it hurt, but you just move on from it,” Abbrederis said of the play. “Attacking it, attacking practice, going after every rep and trying to make the best of things.”The rest of the Wisconsin offense moved on from it, as well. Abbrederis caught one more first-down pass and took another end-around before game’s end.last_img

No Comments yet, be the first to reply

Abbrederis becoming main cog in UW offense