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July 24, 2013Follow @JohnVeldhuis
CHICAGO- Gary Andersen, Jared Abbrederis, Chris Borland, and James White all represented the Badgers at the Big Ten media days on Wednesday, and as usual the event was jam-packed with interesting information. I've included a few of the highlights below in a new Badgers notebook.
-- Andersen said the biggest challenge for him during the summer is making sure the freshmen and other players who are new to the team make a smooth transition. Andersen said it's important for the strength and conditioning and support staff to make sure the newest players stay on the right track, even when they run in to normal problems like homesickness.
"They're going to get homesick- I don't care who they are," Andersen said. "I'm starting a new job, two months in to it I got homesick. I'm 49 years old- I wanted to see my dog. A kid is going to be just like that."
"That's the challenge in the summer time it to make sure those kids don't hit a wall, and then all of a sudden don't succeed socially or academically, which is in turn going to not give them the opportunity to succeed athletically."
-- Andersen said that as a whole he hasn't had many problems adjusting to Wisconsin and the Big Ten, but he said that recruiting is on a whole other level at Wisconsin than it was at Utah State.
"Recruiting at this level, in the Big Ten and nationally, it's just like recruiting at Utah State in January," Andersen said. "It's like that 12 months of the year- there's never a break, there's never a dull moment, you can't take a day off in recruiting because they're always going after 'your guys,' and you've got to stay on top of it. The amount of time as a head coach that you have to manage the recruiting is extensive, to say the least."
-- Both Borland and Abbrederis mentioned how they've had four and three different position coaches during their careers, respectively. But even though that type of transition could be hard to deal with for some players, both Borland and Abbrederis said they've learned a lot from the different assistants they've worked with at Wisconsin.
"A lot of people point to that as an obstacle, but on the flip side I've been introduced to a lot of different brands of football," Borland said. "I've had all great coaches."
"Each guy has kind of brought their own thing and left their mark on me, and I don't look at it as a negative, I look at it as a positive," Abbrederis said. "I kind of look at that and just see what I can learn from each of them."
-- Borland said he's not much of a video game player, but he said he understands why some players have joined with Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA.
"I understand it- I'm familiar with Ed O'Bannon and what he's been doing," Borland said. "I know a couple of Arizona players have [added] their name to the case. It's a legitimate gripe."
-- Borland had some interesting things to say about the team's summer workouts, which wrapped up this week. The Badgers will have a little time off between now and when camp starts on Aug. 5, and Abbrederis said the team built a lot of chemistry during the offseason.
"Guys are really excited. We've been doing things this summer that we haven't been able to do in the past," Borland said. "Like player-led practices, 7-on-7 sessions. We've had a great summer. I think we had a great spring and we've really built on that."
"I'm really excited about the chemistry- I think that's our strong suit right now. Obviously you have to have talent and work hard, but when you have guys that get along and guys with high character usually those other things fall in to place. We've got a lot of seniors and a close-knit team. In order to get back we're going to play off of that."
-- Abbrederis also said a few new players could help the Badgers on offense this season at wide receiver, in addition to some other players like Jordan Fredrick and Kenzel Doe who contributed on offense last season.
"Rob Wheelwright will be a good player," Abbrederis said. "He's got a good head on him. Both of those guys, Jazz Peavy as well, they're both hard workers. If you mix work and talent, that's going to produce some good things. A.J. Jordan has a lot of talent, too. Alex Erickson looks good as well.