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December 21, 2011MADISON - Freshman tight end Austin Traylor utilized his redshirt season in a fitting manner. Bulking up to 225 pounds, the Ohio native and former four-star prospect continues to make progress toward being the next great Badger tight end.
At the conclusion of Tuesday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com had an opportunity to catch up with Traylor. The following is a question and answer with the Columbus (OH) native.
Now that you've been around for an entire season, how would you say the first go-round went?
Traylor: It was good. I redshirted so I didn't play, but as a redshirt you've just got to kind of embrace your role on the scout team and pray for the success of the team. They've been successful enough to give me an opportunity to take a trip to California for the Rose Bowl as a freshman. That's enjoyable in itself and I get a whole bunch of gifts and things. I think it's a good experience. It's good to experience success young so you know how to handle it when you're older.
You get a taste of it now, and obviously you won't be playing in the game as a redshirt, but is that something that might fuel you when you actually get a chance to play?
Traylor: Yeah, when I look back on my high school career we didn't have that success young. We started winning more, but I hadn't been there before so it was kind of a first time type thing. Seeing it young is very important. It helps to motivate you and shows what you can accomplish when you work hard.
When you play on the scout team how do the guys adhere to that? Do you feel as though the guys that play respect you when you're on scout team?
Traylor: Yeah, they respect us. To an extent they look at it as they're still the upperclassmen and the players. They're going to get their jobs done.
Did you get to emulate anybody throughout the course of the season? What was your primary role on the scout team?
Traylor: Playing different tight ends. This week I'm playing their receiver, No. 80 (Lavasier Tuinei). Throughout most of the season we just play different tight ends. Some teams use tight ends more than others.
So when you get assigned a player do you just watch him on film and then just try to do everything that he does from what you're seeing?
Traylor: You're kind of evaluating and picking up habits that the defense would see when they're watching film. You try to emulate those for them to see in practice just so they'd be ready in the game.
How are you doing inside the weight room? Are you doing pretty good there?
Traylor: I had tremendous gains. I think I took advantage of my redshirt season, especially in the weight room. I've gained 30 pounds since I've been here and I've gotten real strong.
What are you at right now, weight-wise?
Traylor: I'm at 235 right now. I'd like to be a little more, maybe.
Do you have any idea what you're projected as moving forward, looking at next year. Obviously Jake Byrne isn't going to be around. I don't know if that's the spot you're going to be playing, but how are you approaching going into spring camp?
Traylor: I'm just approaching as I want to master the playbook and know my role. I've been playing H-back, which isn't really Byrne's position, but I feel like I'm good enough so that I can earn playing time on special teams and maybe get in on offense next year. I think knowing the playbook will help me out. That and playing fast.
People always talk about paying your dues or what not. Can that be said about playing on special teams? You just have to pay your dues and then you'll get your chance?
Traylor: Yeah, if you take advantage of your time paying your dues might come sooner rather than later. Special teams are a good way to get on the field and get some experience during game time. Whenever you play on whatever side of the ball you do you can take advantage of those opportunities.
How did your first semester go as a student? Was it different than high school?
Traylor: Yeah, it was different. It took some adjustment. You're not just in a building going class to class. You kind of go to one class, have a break and then go to another class or practice. It was different to adjust to, but I think I did well. I'm sure I got above a 3.0 GPA this past semester.
And you're going through your first finals right now. How are they going?
Traylor: They actually went well. I only had one true final.
Whoa, as a freshman only one true final? How did you pull that off?
Traylor: The rest of my finals were taken on the last day of class so I was done the first day of finals, which was Saturday morning. I had the first final at 7:45 in the morning so I've had some extra time to watch film and get ready to play scout for Oregon.
Growing up in Big Ten country did you pay attention to the Rose Bowl a lot growing up?
Traylor: Yeah, of course. I'm from Columbus and you see the Buckeyes play. I wasn't a real Buckeyes fan, but you see them going and you hear about the Rose Bowl. It seems like a nice experience. I know people that went to Ohio State and told me about it.
You must be pretty excited about it.
Traylor: Yes sir. It's exciting. I've been out there before, but I've never had the experience of going to the Rose Bowl. The way they treat you is fantastic. I'm excited to be there.