Found August 20, 2013 on Fox Sports Wisconsin:
MADISON, Wis. -- Here's a story about a small-school Wisconsin prep football player who earns first-team all-conference honors as a defensive back and quarterback. He doesn't garner a single Division I scholarship offer and chooses to attend the University of Wisconsin as a walk-on. He spends his first season on the scout team and converts into a wide receiver. By Year 2, his football IQ and knack for catching passes proves so valuable that coaches can't keep him off the field. Sound familiar? If you guessed Jared Abbrederis, you'd be right. But if you guessed Alex Erickson, that, too, would be correct. "There's a lot of parallels there," said Erickson, a redshirt freshman. "The biggest thing I'm trying to do is establish that work ethic that he has. If you're out here watching practice, you know he's one of the hardest working guys out here, he's flying up and down the field, he sacrifices his body for the team. You can learn a lot from him." Erickson, apparently, has learned quite well because he's been turning heads during the Badgers' entire fall camp. He has been so good that Badgers coach Gary Andersen said Erickson would "definitely" earn playing time this season following the team's second open scrimmage on Monday. "He'll be in that rotation, and (I'm) proud of the way he's gone through camp and fought," Andersen said. During the scrimmage, Erickson caught four passes for 41 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown from quarterback Curt Phillips. One of the only other players with more receiving yards? Abbrederis, the fifth-year senior who had two catches for 59 yards. Erickson, a 6-foot, 198-pound native of Darlington, Wis., has worked his way into a wide receiver rotation that will feature Abbrederis, Jordan Fredrick and Kenzel Doe, among others. One of his biggest tasks, he said, was to demonstrate the kind of consistency that would make quarterbacks want to throw his way in tight coverage against a defensive back, and that began by establishing timing with the signal callers in the summer. It certainly carried over into August, where he has built that trust even further. "When the ball is thrown his way, he's coming down with the football," Badgers offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said. Added Erickson: "This is a game about emotion. You've got to be confident, especially in yourself. When it comes down to it, it's 1-on-1, you versus that defensive back. So when the ball is in the air, you've got to believe in yourself and have the confidence and trust that you can get that ball." As a senior at Darlington High, Erickson was almost unstoppable on offense. He rushed for nearly as many yards (1,239) as he had passing (1,250) and scored 33 touchdowns. He also tallied 50 tackles and three interceptions as a safety and cornerback. When he arrived at Wisconsin, he was asked to choose which side of the ball he wanted to play. Erickson had never played a snap at wide receiver before, but he wanted to remain on offense and figured it was the best way to get on the field. So he spent his first season soaking up everything, from how to properly catch passes and run routes to film study. "A lot of it was learning," Erickson said. "The technique of route running is a lot more challenging than most people think. It's been a process, and it's taken time." Abbrederis, a Wautoma, Wis., native, has been there to show Erickson and other wide receivers the steps necessary to succeed. He has made a point of reminding them about the value of hard work and the ability to embrace coaching criticism as a means to an end. Abbrederis, of course, has turned himself into one of the all-time best wide receivers in Wisconsin history and eventually earned a scholarship by heeding such advice. He was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick last season, ranks eighth in school history in receiving yards (2,059) and is tied for sixth in touchdown catches (16). Erickson can only hope his production ultimately mirrors that of Abbrederis, but Abbrederis recognizes his teammate is off to a good start. "He's made most of the plays that came his way," Abbrederis said. "Some of the tough ones, contested ones, he went up and got. He's just learning and watches film and takes coaching points and puts it into action on the field. He's done a really good job with that, getting better each day, and we kind of knew in the summer how he was working and some of his abilities. He's been impressive this fall camp." Much of the talk during fall camp -- and, really, all of last season -- was that Wisconsin had not developed a No. 2 wide receiver threat to complement Abbrederis. A year ago, Abbrederis often faced double teams, and the Badgers' passing game stalled. Erickson said he hadn't spent much time considering what others thought of the team's wide receiver group. "Not really," he said. "I'm not a big social media guy, so I'm not into it too much. Still, you've got to have that chip on your shoulder that it's there. Extra motivation is always good. Not that we're not motivated. But just having that there, too, just pushing you everyday reminding you, be that extra guy, somebody step up. "That's what the coaches are looking for and other teammates are looking for. As a core we're coming out here, grinding and trying to make plays." Few have done it better than Erickson, which is why you can expect to see him on the field at wide receiver plenty this season. Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter

Wisconsin's Alvarez heading to College Football Playoff committee?

The College Football Playoff needs a committee and one noted college football dignitary has stepped forward offering his services. Wisconsin athletics director Barry Alvarez, perhaps still feeling energized by his brief return to coaching in the Rose Bowl, says he would be interested in joining any such playoff committee that has yet to be formed. According to, the...

Much remains to be decided in Badgers' QB battle

MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's second and final open scrimmage of fall camp came and went Monday, and you'd have thought the most intriguing remaining position battle would have been decided. After all, how many practices does it take before a coaching staff finally picks a starting quarterback? Apparently, at least 18. After more than two weeks of competition, and with just...

Andersen fitting in just fine at No. 23 Wisconsin

Any concerns about how Wisconsin's Gary Andersen would be accepted by the team's strong fan base may have been dissolved in the wind blowing through a cornfield. A farmer recently decided to carve a corn maze with the likeness of the face of the Badgers' new coach and the school's signature ''W'' logo on a football. Welcome to Wisconsin, Gary. ...

Badgers bball to face Hoosiers twice on ESPN

So, while the entire 2013-14 Wisconsin Badgers basketball schedule has yet to be released it appears we may be able to piece it together quicker than it comes out from the Badgers or the Big Ten office. That's because we found out today that ESPN's Super Tuesday will feature two games between Wisconsin and Indiana. Wisconsin will travel to Bloomington first in this series...

Weight Transfer

For seniors Ethan Hemer and Pat Muldoon, the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense for Wisconsin this season required more than just a change of technique.

5 Things to Watch as Badgers hoops head to Canada

Wisconsin basketball made a crucial and smart decision this offseason by putting together a foreign trip, one that begins tomorrow as UW hoops heads north of the border for a five game trip in Canada. Along with the games come the ability to get organized practices as well.  That's the crucial part, especially with Wisconsin having to find replacements for their entire starting...

‘We Will Never Forget You, Bert’: Good riddance Bret Bielema t-shirts

The Wisconsin Badgers lost Bret Bielema to the Arkansas Razorbacks after last season. We have these "We Will Never Forget You, Bert" t-shirts to remember.
Badgers News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.