Sophomore tight end Brian Wozniak is ready and waiting, waiting, waiting for his chance with the University of Wisconsin football team.

Wozniak primarily backs up sophomore Jacob Pedersen as the H-back, but is also capable of playing the traditional tight end spot, where senior Jake Byrne starts.

"It's fun watching Jacob and Jake play well, because I see them practice and I've seen them grow," Wozniak said. "It's obviously frustrating for me, just because I'm a competitor. When my shot comes, I want to grab that opportunity and run with it. … I'll be ready when my opportunity comes."

Wozniak's issue so far has been one of poor timing. When there has been a chance for a bigger role, he has been slowed by injuries.

Now that Wozniak healthy, Pedersen has developed into a top weapon, ranking third on the team with 19 catches for 262 yards, and tied for first with six touchdown catches.

Wozniak went into the 2010 spring with a chance to be the second tight end behind Lance Kendricks, but was slowed by a knee injury. That fall camp, he suffered a fractured shoulder, which limited him to seven games.

Last spring, Wozniak got extra work due to injuries and flashed the potential that has excited coaches since he arrived from Loveland, Ohio.

He bulked up to 260 pounds for fall camp and was ready to compete for a job when a pulled hamstring limited him for a couple weeks.

"Coming out of spring, I had a lot of high hopes," Wozniak said. "I was real confident going into the year. I was a lot stronger and still moving pretty well.

"It was frustrating coming out of camp. My playing time has gone up a little bit more, but it's still frustrating as a competitor for me. You want to be out there more."

The Badgers have 15 players from Ohio who will be returning to their home state for the game on Saturday night at Ohio State.

The only starter in the group is sophomore middle linebacker Chris Borland (Kettering) and three others are in the two-deep: Wozniak, third receiver Jeff Duckworth (Cincinnati) and backup defensive end Pat Muldoon (Mason).

Ten of the Ohio natives are first- or second-year players.

Wozniak, Duckworth and Muldoon live together and are close friends.

"We have a pretty close-knit group," Wozniak said. "We kind of look after each other. When we're recruiting Ohio guys, the Ohio guys (on the team) look after them when they come in."

Wozniak's first game as a Badger came in the upset last season of top-ranked Ohio State.

"It's fun, it's exciting, but it's no more special (for Ohio guys) than any other guy on the team," Wozniak said of facing the Buckeyes. "We'd really like the 'W.' "

With Pedersen slightly banged up, Wozniak got his most significant playing time (about 30 snaps) against Indiana two weeks ago. He said tight ends coach Joe Rudolph was encouraged by his performance.

"I think coach Rudy has some confidence in me," Wozniak said. "I still have to get better, but I think I have the confidence of the coaches."

Since he gets most of his practice time at H-back, Wozniak dropped about 10 pounds down to 250. Still, at 6-foot-4, he's got the body frame to be a candidate, along with freshman Sam Arneson, to replace Byrne after this season.

"When it comes to (football), it's hard to be patient, just because I want to play," Wozniak said. "I understand why I'm not right now. I think patience is helping me, but I want to be out there."

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