The top returning receiver for the University of Wisconsin football team, and one of the best punt returners in the nation, finally has a scholarship.
Jared Abbrederis tweeted Monday that after three seasons with the Badgers — including a redshirt year — he has received a tender.
"Praise God for blessing me with a scholarship, signed the papers today!" Abbrederis wrote. "All the hard work has paid off!"
UW officials announced via Twitter on Monday afternoon that defensive lineman Ethan Hemer, another third-year sophomore walk-on, also was granted a scholarship.
An All-State prep quarterback who led Wautoma to a WIAA state title, Abbrederis began his career at UW as a walk-on receiver.
He redshirted in 2009, then broke into the rotation as a second-year freshman in 2010, when he tied for second on the team in TD receptions (3), fourth in receiving yards (289) and fifth in receptions (20).
He was in line for a scholarship last summer until quarterback Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin; Badgers coach Bret Bielema still had one available but didn't want to choose between Abbrederis and Hemer, so he intended to award it to an older player while pledging that each would go on scholarship in January.
The development didn't thrill Abbrederis' father, Scott, a firefighter and paramedic in Oshkosh who has a second job to help pay the bills. He http://host.madison.com/sports/college/football/pay-to-play-starters-abbrederis-hemer-keep-focus-on-field/article_41b307cc-e0ba-11e0-94dd-001cc4c03286.html" target="_blank">told the Wisconsin State Journal that the family was counting on the scholarship this season to cover Jared's expenses.
Jared made a point of not begrudging Wilson and told the State Journal during the season that "I'm just trying to rely on God to get (me) through financially." And it's clear that he didn't let the situation affect his play.
As a sophomore this past season, Abbrederis amassed 933 receiving yards — tops on the team — on 55 catches and caught eight touchdowns, the latter second behind Nick Toon in team stats.
Abbrederis was third in the country in punt returns, averaging 15.75 yards per attempt, with one score.
His 346 all-purpose yards at the Rose Bowl were the most ever by a Wisconsin player in a bowl game and just one short of the school record set by Ron Dayne against Hawaii in 1996.
His fumble late in the game ended a potential game-tying drive, but Abbrederis held court with reporters afterward, answering waves of question about the play.
"We're all human. We make mistakes," he said. "So you can't dwell on them. You've got to look at them and make yourself better. Maybe in the offseason, it's more strip drills, stuff like that. I'm just looking forward to the work."
[Editor's note: Ethan Hemer's status was updated by UW officials via Twitter today.]