August 16, 2009

Fully healthy, Ewing impresses with work ethic

MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin sophomore Bradie Ewing is no stranger to the ice bath part of being a football player. Following practice each day during camp, an easy place to spot the walk-on would be in the bright yellow tubs full of ice begging for any hesitant participant to submerge themselves in an attempt to cool and heal a beat up body.

For anyone familiar with the type of player Ewing is, it should come as no surprise, then, that he spends eight to 10 minutes after every practice in that very chilled environment. And he undoubtedly needs it for good reason.

"You may see him line up on third down and protect in pass protection and run some routes and do some things like that," UW running backs coach John Settle said earlier in camp. "But that's what we have in mind, for him to be a guy that services multiple ways doing a lot of different things."

Ewing is the quintessential example of a coach's dream. He simply comes to practice on a daily basis and busts his tail to help the team. If that means lining up at fullback and getting in the way of opposing linebackers or rolling out to the flat for a pass, Ewing will never be the player to complain and let his play do all the talking. All, of course, while doing what the coaches say.

"You got to," Ewing said. "To be the best player and best team you can be. Obviously the coaches know what they're doing, so (it's) just approaching it with a mental and physical toughness and just trying to get better every day."

As a freshman a season ago, Ewing became acquainted with fullback Bill Rentmeester and admittedly learned plenty from the fullback and special teams veteran both on and off the field. Now, with Rentmeester gone, Ewing is a logical choice to fill in the void left open by the former Badger.

"On the field, he's (Rentmeester) got a great work ethic," Ewing said. "He works hard just doing things outside, inside, whatever they ask him to do. He even stepped in at some tailback. So, just that attitude of doing whatever they ask you to do and approach it with a good work ethic."

After missing the entirety of spring practice with a shoulder injury, the fullback position was missing an integral piece of the puzzle. Still, though he was sidelined, Ewing continually worked on getting himself healthy all while putting the team first.

"He puts the team before himself," Settle said. "Last year, whatever we needed him to do, even after he hurt his shoulder, he was willing to do it. Then to come back this year, in rehab, (he) did all the things he needed to get himself ready to play. It excites you.

"I wish that some of our scholarship players would really look at him as an example of how you compete at the college level. That's the picture you want to paint right there."

Always modest, though, Ewing is hesitant to claim credit for the personal gains he has garnered. He would be the first to attribute his success to the coaching staff and teammates that push him to reach his potential.

Frankly, Ewing just isn't interested in gloating. It doesn't suit his personality and it has no place in the team first attitude he employs. Even though he is in a great position, possibly even in the lead, to be a starter in the UW backfield as a fullback, he knows nothing is given and everything is earned.

"Take a good mental approach to every practice," Ewing said. "I try to get better and study my plays when we have breaks out of meetings and stuff. (It's) just doing that overtime work and just getting better every practice and doing what the coaches ask of me."

If the summer and first week of camp was any indication of what Ewing's work ethic can provide, fans can be excited about the prospect of seeing this walk-on log plenty of playing time in 2009.

"He's a guy that's changed his body," Settle said. "He has gotten bigger but hasn't lost his step. He may have even gotten a step faster. He's a guy that we wanted to see. He sat out all of spring so we didn't get a chance to see him. But when the hits come out the first couple of days, it really opened my eyes once again, this time as a sophomore the same as he did a freshman.

"But he looks even better this year than he did last year."

Don't tell that to Ewing, though, because he likely wouldn't buy it. He knows what he is capable of and confident in his abilities, but he never settles or becomes complacent from his work ethic. There is always room for improvement in his mind, and it's that notion that will keep him working for the betterment of the team and also keep him familiar with the ice baths.

"Your toes get a little cold at first," Ewing said. "But it's okay after that."

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