April 15, 2009

Wagner adjusting to new role

MADISON, Wis. - Last fall, Ricky Wagner entered the Wisconsin campus as a tight end prospect that weighed around 240 pounds. Fast forward six months and the redshirt freshman has seen his body transform to a 308 pound offensive line prospect that currently spells Gabe Carimi at the right tackle position.

Following Tuesday's practice, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with the young lineman. The following is a question and answer with West Allis (WI) native:

It's been kind of an interesting spring for you as you kind of changed positions. How has that gone for you?

Wagner: It's been going alright. I've been getting a lot of help from the players, especially Gabe at left tackle. It's just trying to learn the position.

Originally, you were at tight end. Is that where you had played your entire career prior to this?

Wagner: Yeah, all of high school I was tight end.

Just talk about that transition a little bit. Is your head spinning a little bit?

Wagner: I had put on about 60 pounds since I got here. That's a big transition. It's just the position is different, more physical definitely and faster.

Did the coaches want you to bulk up in order to move you to that position?

Wagner: I guess it kind of just happened. I started getting a little bit bigger at tight end and then coach Bob Bostad asked me to come on the line and I went on from there.

I understand in high school, you were a pretty good basketball player too. How does that athleticism transfer to the football field?

Wagner: I think it definitely helps with the feet. I think I have quicker feet than most tackles. I guess that helps.

Playing left tackle, that is one of the more important position of the offensive line, especially with a right handed quarterback back there. How long do you expect it to take before you are at a level high enough to contribute?

Wagner: I don't know. I'm just trying to focus on learning the position as fast as I can. I'm not really putting a timeline on it, but just everyday keep on getting better.

Have the coaches been patient with you?

Wagner: Yeah, they've really helped. Coach Bo (Bostad) is amazing. He's just helping me every day and really putting in a lot of time and effort.

So even from three weeks ago when spring ball started, you'd say you've seen improvement?

Wagner: Definitely, a lot better. From the first helmet practice to now it's a lot better.

Is that kind of exciting for you, does it give you more confidence moving forward into the summer and then the fall?

Wagner: Yeah, definitely. Learning a new position is exciting. Everyday is a new battle. I'm seeing stuff I've never seen before.

How much time do you spend working with the playbook?

Wagner: We watch film everyday almost two hours. We watch film, playbook and everything.

As a tight end from last fall to where you are today, how does being a tight end before help you with the offensive line playbook?

Wagner: Well, a tackle and tight end work together so I knew most of that. I don't know, other than that, there's some other same blocking schemes. But it's different at the same time.

With the 60 pounds, how does that come about?

Wagner: I don't know. I guess the weight room. I like to think it's more muscle than fat. I guess it's just happening. I guess my body is just growing that way.

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