CHICAGO - Jared Abbrederis summed it up pretty well. Wide receivers at Wisconsin have more pressure on them then you might expect in a run-heavy offense.
"Here at Wisconsin you basically have to catch every pass thrown to you, because you don't get a whole lot of chances," Abbrederis said Thursday at the Big Ten media days.
And for the most part, Abbrederis has made the most of those chances during his career. The redshirt senior receiver from Wautoma, Wis., has caught 124 passes over three seasons worth of playing time for the Badgers, racking up 2,059 receiving yards in the process. Abbrederis also sports a 72.9 percent catch rate for his career with the Badgers, giving the offense one of the most consistent wide receivers in the country.
And it might sounds a little too simple, but Abbrederis said Thursday his journey from walk-on track athlete to All-Big Ten receiver started with a few extra games of catch after practice.
"I remember Jon Budmayr and I would always get extra work in, whether that was in the winter after a workout or something, but I would catch so many passes," Abbrederis said. "I remember I was out there the first day with Jon, and so just getting that time with the quarterbacks, working on your routes and catching passes is really what allowed me to play."
And with the Badgers still looking for another wide receiver or two to step up and take some of the pressure off of Abbrederis, he said the best thing a young wide receiver can do to get better is just stay after practice and put in the extra work.
Not that the younger wide receivers like Jordan Fredrick, Kenzel Doe, and A.J. Jordan don't spend extra time working out as it is, but Abbrederis said that extra competition could help them get to another level during fall camp.
"Those guys just do that, too. You're always trying to do something more than the guy next to you, but it's been pretty good," Abbrederis said. "I think it's just something that we do. I've never had to tell anybody (to stay late). I just think everybody does extra, so there's nobody that really stands out (in that sense)."
Other players like Fredrick and Doe might not have much farther to go before they could contribute on a regular basis and help out Abbrederis. Fredrick averaged a 63 percent catch rate in his first season as a starter, and Doe sported a 61.5 catch rate as the team's third receiver. They combined for a total of just 53 targets between them, far short of the 71 passes the Badgers threw Abbrederis' way last year, but the Badgers would likely be happy if both players could step up to the plate and reel in more passes this year.
Someone will need to do that if the Badgers want to avoid becoming too one-dimensional, but time will tell if the Badgers find another young receiver who can follow in Abbrederis' footsteps and make post-practice work pay off in a big way this fall.