MADISON, Wis. - It is common for freshmen to hit a wall during their first fall camp. The workload is intense and exhausting. Jordan Kohout's experience has been no different. But, like most do, Kohout is in the process of driving through it and is willing to do whatever is needed to help the team.
Following a recent practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the freshman defensive tackle. The following is a question and answer with Kohout.
First of all, how did summer conditioning go?
Kohout:It went real well, real well. I've gotten so much stronger and so much faster and quicker with my strike and my quickness. Herb (Ben Herbert) is just doing an excellent job in the weight room.
How much weight did you add?
Kohout: I added about 10 pounds. I am up to about 285 right now.
Is that where you want to play at, or are you looking to add more?
Kohout: I think at my peak, probably 300. I'm carrying 285, 290 pretty well. I still feel pretty explosive.
What were you when you first came onto campus last spring?
Kohout: I was about 265, around that area.
So have you noticed a big difference after putting on 20 pounds in a relatively short amount of time?
Kohout: Not terribly. Actually, I'm quicker off the ball than I was. I think I'm more explosive in that respect.
Just as far as fall camp, we're over two weeks into it. How has it been going for you?
Kohout: You know, it's had its ups and downs. There were days when you have your good days and days when you have not so good days. It's been tough. It's been a learning experience, but this last week you just got to push through and it's all good.
Has there been any talk as far as what the coaches plan to do with you? Redshirt, or maybe get you into the rotation?
Kohout: I've heard both things. I heard coach Charlie Partridge and coach Dave Doeren kind of debating whether they should redshirt me or not. I've heard coach Bret Bielema saying it's a good idea if I do redshirt. I've heard many different things.
Would you be alright with a redshirt?
Kohout: Oh, I would be. That would be wonderful. I think next year, with all the seniors leaving next year (would) be a great chance to get a lot of playing time.
Do you feel like you're learning a lot? It seems like the line has a lot of depth. Are you learning a lot from these older guys?
Kohout: Oh yeah, tremendously. These guys are just great. I mean, Jeff Stehle, Daniel Moore and Patrick Butrym, they're all….all the older linemen are great. They're always talking to me if I have a question about technique, or they're always critiquing me about something. They're always there to cheer me up if I get down on myself if I had a bad play. They're always there for us.
Coach Partridge seems to focus a lot on the fundamentals. Is that an accurate statement?
Kohout: Oh yeah.
Is that something that you have to have?
Kohout: Oh, it really is. The defensive line, in college football, one misstep, one little inch off, you'd be reached or you won't be in the backfield as quick to make that tackle. It happens like that. You've got to have great fundamentals to win.
You were talking about your explosiveness a little bit, but how would you classify yourself as a player? Powerful? Speed?
Kohout: Probably more so the power. Sometimes on scout I'll play end and just give those tackles a good bull rush. I think that's why I'm strong at the point of attack, that's my run defending. I've got to work on my pass rush a little bit, but it's coming along.
What's the toughest transition from the high school game to the college one?
Kohout: That's a good question. Speed is a big factor. The technique, there's so many factors. You've got to put so much time into it mentally. That's a big thing. Technique, the speed, it's just a whole other game. It really is.
How do you approach every practice, do you kind of come out and focus on getting better or are you trying to come out and show the coaches what you're capable of.
Kohout: I just want to come out here and work, get my job and keep my reputation as a high effort, powerful guy. I mean, if that's what the coaches see, I'm proud of that reputation where I give 100 percent every play and come out and do all the drills 100 percent and come out and do everything I can to the best of my ability.
Have you been a Badger follower for quite some time?
Kohout: You know, I have. When I was younger I wasn't much of a sports guy. When I was in middle school, I started playing football. High school is where I really started loving football. I've always loved the Badgers.
Is there any guy you model your game after?
Kohout: I don't know. There are not too many guys. I like to look at a lot of different players and see what they do. When I'm watching an NFL game or a college game, I'd say, well, that was a good move. (I'm) trying to pick up tendencies from all different players.
I know in high school you guys go through a training camp, too, but is it…
Kohout: Oh, it's not even close. In high school, we'd practice for two hours, then we'd go inside have like a half hour, hour break, come out and practice for an hour and a half. That was our camp for me. You had the rest of the day off. This is like boot camp for me.
Has it taken a toll on your body or are you feeling pretty good still.
Kohout: My body, not so much. My ribs are kind of aching, but that's not too much. My hands are kind of getting sore, still a few bruises here or there. But Herb is just keeping us fresh. We're always in the weight room trying to get recovery and everything like that. He really cares about the players being healthy.
Coach Bielema always talks about the freshmen hitting the wall. Was there a wall period at all?
Kohout: Yes, there was. There was definitely a wall period.
Was that last week?
Do you just fight through it or how do you approach that?
Kohout: I needed to talk to some people and reach out to some people. That's what I really needed. I talked to my parents. All the coaches noticed something was up. I just wasn't myself. I had a good heart to heart with all the coaches and they made me realize that I love football and I want to be here.
Were you second guessing yourself?
Kohout: I think a lot of people start to second-guess themselves. I was kind of doing that. I talked to coach Herbs, I'm talking about him a lot, but him and coach Partridge, I really look up to those two guys a lot. They're both great guys. You see Herb, he's just this intense, bald headed, intense looking coach, but he's very, very good person to talk to and just a great, great person.
The following is the audio from the Kohout interview: