March 26, 2010

Alexander happy with progress of receivers

MADISON - With more than half of spring camp in the books, not many players have stood out more than freshman wide receiver Jared Abbrederis. As a former quarterback in high school, Abbrederis walked on to the UW roster and currently finds himself as one of the surprises of spring camp.

At the conclusion of practice No. 8, BadgerBlitz.com caught up with Abbrederis' position coach. The following is a question and answer with DelVaughn Alexander.

Can you believe spring camp is already half over?

Alexander: It is going by real fast.

Are you seeing what you've hoped to see at this point with your guys?

Alexander: No, I'd like for everyone to be perfect. But yeah, I'm happy with where they are. They've got to continue to work and not become complacent and just work on the little things.

You've got some veteran guys, and I'm talking about the senior class specifically, with David Gilreath, Isaac Anderson and Kyle Jefferson. What are you hoping to see from them? Are they taking a leadership role?

Alexander: Well they hadn't taken a leadership role as much as we wanted, but they still have time to do that. Those guys don't talk a lot so they try to demonstrate being the leader through their actions.

Is it hard to become a leader if you have diminished reps at the wide receiver spot. I know David gets the end around a lot and Isaac starts, but for Kyle specifically.

Alexander: Yeah, a little bit. It is, but that's why I say you can be a guy that does a lot of things right off the field and those guys help the team as far as leadership goes. That's what we're looking for some of those guys to do because like you said, they may not be out here talking a lot and trying to get guys to do things verbally. They are trying to do all the little things.

Has Nick Toon gotten faster?

Alexander: I don't know. It's hard for me to see. I'll know when he runs by everybody in the conference. Then I'll answer that one.

What kind of red zone threat is he, though? It seems like every time they throw a fade to him, he's going to come down with it?

Alexander: He's done a good job. He's got a big body and a big vertical. If we put the ball up, chances are pretty good that he can come down with it.

Is he still doing track?

Alexander: No, he's not doing track. He's doing some extra running and doing a lot of extra things to keep his hips loose and flexible. But no, track is out.

Is that his choice, or something that you guys wanted him to…

Alexander: No, I think it was his choice. I think if he wanted to run track, he's going to run track as long as it didn't interfere with football. I think it was his choice to take care of his body and do some things to prepare for the season.

Obviously throughout the first two and a half weeks or whatever it's been, Abbrederis has been all over the place.

Alexander: Yeah he has. He's the talk of the town. He's done a great job and he understands his assignments a little bit better. He's playing really, really fast and he's not afraid of contact. You just kind of mold that through the spring and see what is available and if he's the same person in the fall.

You've seen some of these transitions before but he plays quarterback in high school and comes in as a walk-on nonetheless and gets switched to wide receiver. What can you say about the dedication it takes to become a playmaker when you make a switch like that?

Alexander: It's tough. It's just like you said, it's about the dedication. He sure is dedicated. In the fall he asked a million questions with zero opportunity. I think with a lot of those questions he took to hear the answers. He understood better because of those questions and answers.

Again, he is dedicated and it is important to him.

Jon Budmayr and him seem to have quite the chemistry out there. Does that come from the off-season work that they did?

Alexander: I think so. I think after practice during the fall those guys got together so Budmayr could get the extra throws with the routes that we run versus the routes as a scout team player. There is an understanding there and a rhythm and they use it.

Is this the type of model you like to see? Having three senior guys and a couple juniors and a couple of underclassmen. Is that the way ideally you'd like to have it?

Alexander: Yeah, you like to have a couple of guys in each class. To me, as a coach, it feels like I've got old and real young so I'd like something in between. Those guys all started at the same time even though they're not all seniors. The younger guys started at the same time. It's just fun. I just have to stay on my toes because when the old guys go it will be back to cracking the whip with the young guys.

You look forward to that challenge.

Alexander: It's never ending. It was good when I had one freshman over the last three years. It was one freshman, one freshman and one freshman. Coming up, I've got another three and that's when you've got your hands full.

How has Jeff Duckworth looked for you so far?

Alexander: He's done a great job. Jeff is smart and he understands what we want. In the fall he was a little dinged up so he didn't get all the work that he had hoped. He's still working his way through how physical he has to be, how fast and how much energy he has to play with. He's done a great job to this point.

A lot of times coaches, scouts or whatever say a guy makes the biggest jumps from year one to year two. Are you starting to see that with him?

Alexander: Like I said, I believe this spring is similar to Jeff's start in fall camp. He's that far behind because of the injury and because of the time that he hasn't gone fast and had to compete. This is the beginning for him, so we take all of that in stride and continue to teach him, coach him and get the most out of him.

What can you expect for a guy like that? When he's probably not going to make the rotation this year, what do you hope to see out of a guy like that?

Alexander: Like all of them, just steady improvement. Just continue to compete, continue to play faster and continue to focus on the little things that you don't know. Then do it again. Find some consistency.

I was here pretty early the other day and you had Toon back there returning kicks. Is that going to be…

Alexander: Well he's always been a back up as a kick returner so he's just kind of working at it. All those guys that have that ability, we get them out early. Even though you're not a starter, you never know when we'll need you.

That will be David though.

Alexander: Yeah, he's done it for four years so we want to try to finish on a high note there.

He got that first touchdown last year at Northwestern. The sky is the limit.

Alexander: Yeah, it's been almost 4,000 yards now. We just want to really use David as much as we can.

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