Right guard Kevin Zeitler vowed he was going to change.

Zeitler might be the ultimate grinder on the University of Wisconsin football team. Even at a position known for guys with unyielding work ethics, Zeitler is in a world of his own.

Few players put in more time after practice, watch more film or are more critical of their play.

Zeitler works so tirelessly and has such a reserved personality his teammates jokingly refer to him as a robot. When a reporter mentioned an interview with Zeitler last season, former UW left guard John Moffitt said, “Did you speak binary code?”

With the Badgers preparing to play in the Rose Bowl last season, Zeitler vowed to cut himself some slack and try to enjoy the journey.

So how did that work out?

“Well, as far as being easier on myself, no,” Zeitler said.

Some things never change — and maybe that’s a good thing.

The Badgers go into this season having to replace two All-Americans on the left side of the offensive line in Moffitt and tackle Gabe Carimi. But the expectations won’t change. Zeitler, a senior from Waukesha who attended Wisconsin Lutheran, will see to that.

UW averaged a school-record 41.5 points per game last season behind one of the best lines in UW history.

“Wisconsin is an O-line school,” Zeitler said. “There’s a tradition and a standard set. Everyone who is playing knows that standard. They realize you can’t slack, you can’t drop.”

No one worries about Zeitler slacking. During spring practices, he spent six and seven hours a day at the football facilities, dragging young players with him to watch video.

“It’s ridiculous how hard I am” on myself, Zeitler said. “I can watch film and think I had the worst practice ever, but when we get the (offensive line coach Bob) Bostad comment sheet, there’s just a few things.”

Having two high-profile teammates probably cost Zeitler the chance to get more recognition after last season, when he was an All-Big Ten honorable mention pick.

“I’ve told a lot of people, he’s probably the most overlooked guy we’ve got,” Bostad said.

Zeitler has not allowed a sack in his career, a statistic coach Bret Bielema consistently mentions.

“I’m proud of it, but when people find out about it, they’re going to start trying to kick my (butt),” Zeitler said.

The only open job on the line going into preseason camp is right tackle. Junior Ricky Wagner, who started 10 games at right tackle a year ago, and sophomore Travis Frederick, who was redshirted, look like capable replacements for Carimi and Moffitt, respectively.

Junior center Pete Konz could be UW’s next great lineman and his outgoing personality assures he also will be the center of attention.

That leaves right tackle, where 345-pound redshirt freshman Rob Havenstein emerged from the spring as No. 1. But he will have to hold off senior Josh Oglesby, a former starter who is returning from knee surgery.

“Robbie’s done a nice job of showing he’s a viable option,” Bostad said. “To me, that’s been a bright spot, to watch him develop and grow.”

July 28: Running backs
July 29: Tight ends
July 30: Offensive linemen
July 31: Wide receivers
Aug. 1: Quarterbacks
Aug. 2: Defensive linemen
Aug. 3: Linebackers
Aug. 4: Defensive backs
Aug. 5: Specialists

LEFT TACKLE

(Height, weight, year, hometown)

58 Ricky Wagner
6-6, 320, Jr., West Allis
64 Robert Burge
6-7, 325, Jr., Holmen

LEFT GUARD

72 Travis Frederick
6-4 330 So. Sharon
75 Zac Matthias
6-5 330 So. Hemlock, Mich.

CENTER

66 Peter Konz
6-5 315 Jr. Neenah
79 Ryan Groy
6-5 320 So. Middleton

RIGHT GUARD

70 Kevin Zeitler
6-4 315 Sr. Waukesha
73 Dallas Lewallen
6-6 320 R-Fr. Berlin

RIGHT TACKLE

78 Rob Havenstein
6-8 345 R-Fr. Mount Airy, Md.
67 Josh Oglesby
6-7 330 Sr. Milwaukee
63 Casey Dehn
6-6 335 So. Owatonna, Minn.

Others

56 Riki Kodanko
6-9 330 R-Fr. Green Bay
60 Jake Current
6-3 305 Sr. Troy, Ohio
61 Tyler Marz
6-7 280 Fr. Springfield, Minn.
65 Jonathan Coon
6-7 315 Fr. Franklin
71 Ray Ball
6-7 335 Fr. Columbus, Ohio


Burning question 

Will there be any fall-off after losing Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt?

Not many schools could reload without missing a beat in the offensive line after losing two All-Americans, but UW might be the one. Wagner moves from right tackle, where he started 10 games last season, to left tackle. After a slight adjustment in the spring, he looks like he will be fine. Sophomore Travis Frederick is raring to go after redshirting last season and should step in at left guard without any issues. The starter at right tackle is still to be determined, but the three-way battle should yield a solid player. Last year's line deserved to be ranked with some of the best in school history. This line may not rank quite that high but should be a strength once again.

Player to watch

Peter Konz

Konz has the personality and ability to be a leader and the team's next standout lineman, after making 20 starts the last two years. But offensive line coach Bob Bostad put it succinctly in the spring when asked what Konz needs to do to reach the next level. "Stay healthy," Bostad said. "Do you see him out here?" Konz bounced back from a problem with blood clots that caused him to miss the final two games after nine starts as a redshirt freshman in 2009. He was slowed by an ankle injury that caused him to miss the second half against Iowa and starts against Indiana and Michigan. He also sat out the final three weeks of spring drills with a high sprain on the same ankle, as well as minor knee surgery. Konz planned to work in the summer to try and strengthen the ankle so the problem will not persist.

— Tom Mulhern

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