MADISON - Because Nick Toon has been sidelined throughout the course of spring camp, Jared Abbrederis has suddenly seen his level of leadership and accountability skyrocket.
Even as a redshirt sophomore, Abbrederis is the most experienced receiver participating in camp. Now, as the spring season is winding down, BadgerBlitz.com took the time to catch up with the veteran receiver.
The following is a question and answer with Abbrederis.
Well, how is your spring going? Has it gone how you hoped it would go? Better? Worse?
Abbrederis: I think the spring has been pretty good so far. I got a lot of improvement, just working on some small things. It's been showing up lately. I'm happy with all the practices combined, but I've had a couple of practices where I've gotten beat on that day. You've just got to be consistent every day.
What are some of the small things you've improved on that you've mentioned?
Abbrederis: My press releases. The cornerbacks are one-on-one and they're right up on the line on you. I've worked on that from day one. I think that I'm finally starting to master that a little bit. Then there is also the route running, understanding the play and where to be and maybe take a defensive back a little wider or open up a hole and stuff like that.
Are they pressing more than they have in the past?
Abbrederis: Yup. I think that's because they have a little more experience. The older guys know the playbook a little bit more and they trust them a little bit more one-on-one.
Looking at the receiver position, what's the biggest advantage of being so young this spring?
Abbrederis: I think everybody just pushes each other. There's not really a set position. Obviously some guys are projected to start and stuff like that, but you've got to show up every day. There's that consistent competition amongst each other and the defensive backs and stuff, too. I think that's a really good thing. Then just learning from each other and getting better. Hopefully we'll be together for a couple of years.
What's the biggest disadvantage of being so young?
Abbrederis: Just the growing pains right now. If one guy runs the wrong route it kind of messes up the whole play. Just being young, the main thing is trying to get through those growing pains while everybody gets older, I guess.
Do you take it upon yourself to be a leader, especially with Nick being out?
Abbrederis: Yeah, when Nick went out it really made me step up and really be a leader both on the field and off the field. I think that was pretty good, but I think it will be good to get Nick back out because he's a good leader and a big playmaker for us. It's helpful because then we'll have a couple of more guys who have stepped up. I think that's helpful.
How has he helped you guys even though he's not out there getting reps and stuff?
Abbrederis: He's been here for a long time so he knows the plays and all the small things you can do to improve. If you've got a question you can go off to the sideline and just ask him because he's been there before. I think just his knowledge helps out a lot. And just being a teammate he's there for you. I think that's the main thing.
You and Jon Budmayr have a pretty good relationship out there with decent chemistry. You guys are always connecting on deep balls.
Abbrederis: I think that was just from last spring and the summer and winter workouts. It's just getting extra time in. He's always willing to come in. I'm willing to come in and get some extra work in. I think part of it comes from there. We'll see what happens.
How is he different from Scott Tolzien?
Abbrederis: Obviously they're both great quarterbacks. Scotty, obviously, had more knowledge because he was older and he was there so he knew how to do pretty much everything. So Jon is learning that. Jon is not afraid of really throwing that deep ball. He'll throw it up there every time if he has to. I think that's the nice thing about Jon.
Does he have the strongest arm on the team?
Abbrederis: I think so. They've all got pretty good arms so I'm not sure. I haven't really lined them up and have them throw. Maybe, though.
You look throughout the course of the spring and there have been a number of interceptions. How much do you put on yourself as a wide receiver and the fact that maybe you're not doing some things right or do you put it on a young quarterback like Jon?
Abbrederis: I put every interception on the receiver because there is always something the receiver could have done better to maybe get in the way of the ball or to come back and knock it out at least. Every interception is on the receiver. It has a little bit to do with both of them, but if a receiver runs a perfect route or really beats the defensive back there's not going to be an interception. I never put it on the quarterback. I always just put it on myself to make myself improve more.
He'd probably say the same thing. He'd probably say he wouldn't put it on the receivers and that he'd put it on himself. Does he get past it pretty quick, though?
Abbrederis: Yeah, he goes onto the next play pretty well.
That's what you have to do as a quarterback.
Abbrederis: Yeah, I think at any position or any sport you're in you've got to be able to forget about your mistake. Obviously you learn from it, but you go back to the next play and it's a new play with a new mindset.
Did you add weight at all over winter conditioning? Did you bulk up?
Abbrederis: I think after the last season I lost a couple of pounds so I've got that weight back. Right now during spring ball I've been hitting the weights pretty hard. So in the summer my goal is to gain about 10 more pounds. Hopefully that will be the perfect playing weight for me. For everyone it's different, but we'll see. I'm hoping to gain a couple more pounds this summer. I'm really focused on that and gaining a little more speed too.
What are you at right now?
Abbrederis: I'm at 183.
So you want to get up to the 190 range?
Abbrederis: Yeah, the mid 190's. So if I'm playing the lowest I want to be at is 190. We'll see.
Any of the defensive backs standing out to you from what you're seeing?
Abbrederis: I think they're all doing well. Antonio Fenelus and Devin Smith are both doing well. Aaron Henry and Shelton Johnson, I think they're all stepping up pretty good. Marcus Cromartie has had a pretty good spring so far, too. I think they're learning just like us. I think they're improving a lot. They're going to be a pretty good defensive backfield.
How about on the offensive side of the ball with your wide receivers? Who's been standing out to you?
Abbrederis: Isaiah Williams has been making some plays. Obviously Jeff Duckworth, Chase Hammond has done pretty well for us. They're all doing pretty well. Kenzel Doe is coming up and making some plays. Manasseh Garner, he was at tight end. I think the whole group, we've all pretty much been growing pretty well. Maybe we'll miss a couple plays so we've got to improve on that and just make every play comes our way.
You broke onto the scene last year and obviously Abbrederis is not your typical last name. What's the best nickname you've heard from friends, family or fans?
Abbrederis: (Laughing) I've heard everything. Abracadabra, magic man and white lightning.
Abbrederis: Nah, I've heard everything. I don't really care. It's pretty funny.