MADISON - Jake Keefer came into the Wisconsin football program as one of the state's top prep players. Like any other high school star that is used to playing on an every down basis, Keefer continues to adjust to the college game.
At the conclusion of Wednesday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the four-star prospect. The following is a question and answer with Keefer.
To start, how has everything been going so far?
Keefer: It's been going real well. Just to be in Madison and to be a part of the football program is just a dream come true. It's been a reality coming here. It's been a lot of hard work, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
Talk about fall camp, is that what you're alluding to with the hard work?
Keefer: Yeah, fall camp was real for sure. It was a lot of hard work, but you can see where we're at right now. It definitely paid off. You've got to do that and you've got to pay your dues to do well on the field. It helped out a lot.
One of the things that freshmen usually struggle to grapple with is the idea of not playing. Obviously being a prep standout like you were and playing all the time and now you're coming here as a young guy on the totem pole trying to work your way up. How has that been?
Keefer: It's a big difference. It's something that I've never been through. It gets tough, but you've just got to remember in the front of your mind that you're here to help the team. My role right now is being the best I can be on the scout team and I'm taking that and that's all I can do. I'm happy with where I'm at right now. I'm going against some of the best offensive linemen that I've ever gone against. It's just perfecting the technique, continuing to practice hard and helping the team win.
Do you look at this week any different? There's a lot more developmental work and you get to do a lot more Wisconsin stuff instead of scout stuff. Is it a chance for you to get a head start on bowl prep and then spring camp?
Keefer: This week is huge. Coach Bret Bielema always says that this week is the most important week. We keep taking it one day at a time and one week at a time. This is a really important week for our program to develop some other guys and to keep the guys on top healthy. They'll still be getting reps, too, but yeah, it's a big opportunity. You've got to seize each day and attack it.
How's the weight room coming? How are you doing down there?
Keefer: The weight room is awesome. It's been real fun. Coach Ben Herbert is the man and he's got us working. I can see a lot of differences in the guys so far. We come in and work hard. That's all we've got.
What are some of your numbers if you want to share?
Keefer: It's kind of been doing a lot of high rep stuff so we haven't been doing a whole lot of weight. He's got us working for sure, though. He's got us doing a lot of volume and he definitely knows what he's doing. We've just got to come in and work every day.
Have you added weight at all?
Keefer: No, right now I'm about 230 pounds.
What did you come in at?
Keefer: I came in right around there, but I think I've lost quite a bit of fat. I've kind of toned out. I feel pretty good. I've just got to keep working and believing in what the coaches say. That's all you can do.
When you look at some of the young talent at the linebacker position, what do you see?
Keefer: I see a lot of potential. As a group we all have camaraderie on the scout team. I think we have a group of guys that will work hard together and I think we see ourselves as the future of the program. You've got to work hard every day and we're getting better as a group. That's been huge for us so far.
Was there every a time you thought you'd play this year?
Keefer: Coming in it's obvious that everybody wants to play. You've just got to see what happens. Whatever is best for the team, you've just got to do and do what the coaches think. I'm happy with where I'm at right now. You've just got to take it one day at a time and just get better each day.
Kind of going off the field, how is field going. How have you adjusted to the college life?
Keefer: School's been going well so far. I have three midterms next week so I'm studying for that. The first wave of those is coming. It's been eye-opening. But the help with the tutors, the study tables and digging into the books has been a transition. It's going pretty smooth. They help us out a lot.
What classes do you have?
Keefer: Right now I have weather and climate. That's been very interesting. I'm also in Political Science 104. That's been a doozie so far. I'm definitely not a political guy, but I'm learning a lot. It's definitely a great university so I'm glad I'm getting my education here.
What are you trying to get out of the rest of the regular season before you get into bowl prep and spring camp on a personal level?
Keefer: Personally, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win. Obviously it's an exciting time in Badger football. Just to be a part of that is a blessing. Let's say I take a play off and Travis Frederick is pulling around and he doesn't have anybody there. That's going to hurt him in the game. I've got to be there and give him everything I've got. When they come on the field they'll have it easier out there. That's what I'm trying to do.