WHITEWATER — When Jordan Fredrick finished his prep football career at Madison Memorial in the fall, he weighed 215 pounds.
He knew that wasn’t going to cut it for a linebacker for the University of Wisconsin, so he started putting on weight.
Then came the news Fredrick was moving to wide receiver, so after climbing to about 230 pounds, it was time to diet.
It has all worked out for the best, though. After getting some wisdom teeth pulled, the 6-foot-3 Fredrick had no problem losing weight. He now feels toned and fit at 220. After more than a month of working out as a wide receiver during UW summer workouts, he is enthused about the switch.
“Throughout recruiting they were looking at me at outside linebacker,” Fredrick said Tuesday after practice at UW-Whitewater for the South large schools team for the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star games. The small schools (Divisions 4-7) play at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the big schools (Divisions 1-3) at 7 p.m., both at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh.
“I got all my awards and postseason (accolades) on the defensive side of the ball, so you have to look at that first,” Fredrick said. “But talking throughout the whole process, (receiver) is the way we wanted to lean coming in and that’s what we’re going to do right now. Until it changes, it’s working out pretty good.”
The move appears to be driven by need. The Badgers have a glut of linebackers in the incoming freshman class and they need help at receiver. Fredrick caught 113 passes for 1,216 yards and 15 touchdowns at Memorial.
The Badgers signed three other linebackers, including Jake Keefer from Baldwin-Woodville, who is the highest-ranked player in the class and played in the U.S. Army All-American game.
Another prominent name is Pewaukee’s Derek Watt, the younger brother of former UW defensive end J.J. Watt and last season’s Associated Press state player of the year. Also in the class is Hartland Arrowhead’s Derek Landisch, another member of South big schools team.
“At Wisconsin, they have a ton of linebackers and we have a ton of great guys in our class,” Fredrick said. “It’s just knowing I’d have a better chance (of playing) in the future and just a way to help the team at wide receiver.”
South coach Dave Rusch has seen some of the linebacker talent and is impressed. He raved about the trio of Watt, Landisch and Waunakee’s Derek Straus, a Badgers walk-on who was signed as a fullback.
“I’ll tell you one thing, our linebacker crew, those guys bring it and they play fast,” said Rusch, the head coach at Waukesha South. “They’re going to light people up.”
Fredrick also will get a chance to play linebacker in the game — perhaps for the last time. He was selected as a linebacker and didn’t want to bump any of the receivers.
“I’m going to take advantage of that and try to have some fun,” he said of what may be his last chance to deliver the hits.
Fredrick believes his learning curve would have been steeper at linebacker than receiver. He played receiver for three years on varsity at Memorial but spent only one year at linebacker, moving from cornerback as a senior.
“He’s such a versatile athlete, I knew he could play on both sides of the ball,” said former Memorial coach Rick Saenz, who coached Fredrick. “Even at that level.
“He runs great routes, has great hands, great focus and is very disciplined. He’s a huge target.”
Fredrick said there also was discussion of moving him to H-back, but there are four tight ends in his class.
Even with his size, Fredrick described himself as a “finesse” receiver in high school. He’s trying to learn to be more physical, to help separate himself from some of the smaller receivers on the team. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds at 230 pounds but feels faster now.
“He’s not going to run by a whole bunch of guys,” Saenz said. “But he’s got enough (speed) to get the job done.”