Wisconsin will now be without two starters on it's offensive line as on Friday afternoon the Badgers officially announced what was only rumored - that junior center Travis Frederick will declare himself eligible for the upcoming NFL draft. He started 14 games at center this season and will leave Wisconsin as a member of three straight Big Ten Championship football teams.
He was named first team all-conference by the media and was honorable mention all-conference by the coaches as well following this season.
In a letter Frederick wrote to his teammates, coaches, and fans, he stated: (follow after the jump)
Dear Badger Nation,
Over the past month, I have faced one of the toughest decisions in my life. Though it has been a long and difficult decision making process, I have decided to forgo my final season as a Badger to enter the 2013 NFL Draft.
The decision that I have made has not been easy, and I assure you it has not been made in haste. First, as many of you know, academics are very important to me. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to graduate with a degree from the University of Wisconsin. I am happy to say that I am set to graduate in the spring with a degree in Computer Engineering.
Next, I asked myself if I believed I was ready to take such a large leap in the game of football. I have been incredibly lucky to have played under some great coaches and played with some great players. They have prepared me with the skills, techniques, and football IQ that I believe I need to be successful at the next level.
Lastly, I wondered if I was prepared to make such a huge step in my life. This year has taught me to handle adversity and always take life as a learning experience. I have grown as a person through its struggles and triumphs. Because of this, I feel ready to take this step.
Thanks to the tremendous support system that I have, I feel very comfortable making this decision to move forward. I would like to thank everyone that has supported me all along and especially during this decision making process. I would like to especially thank my parents, brothers, friends and girlfriend for being there during my career and this process. Without them, I could not have succeeded.
My time at Wisconsin has been filled with many great people that I would like to thank. I have had the opportunity to study under some incredible professors and staff in one of the nation’s top engineering departments. I would like to thank them for their time and dedication.
I have also studied the game of football under three offensive line coaches that have each taught me different techniques and concepts that have molded me into the player I am today. I thank each of them. I would like to especially thank Coach Miller for his tremendous work this year under incredibly difficult circumstances. Without him, I would not have the great opportunity that I am faced with today. I would also like to thank all of the other coaches and staff that have worked incredibly hard and helped lead our program to three Big Ten championships and four bowl games in my tenure.
I would like to thank my teammates for the wonderful memories that we have created together over the last four years. I will forever cherish the times that we had together (yes, even those 5 a.m. conditioning sessions). You have made my experience at Wisconsin memorable and exciting.
Lastly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the fans, friends of the program and the Wisconsin faithful. Playing in front of you has been both a pleasure and honor, and your support over the last four years has meant the world to me. Wisconsin truly has the best fans in the nation.
I want to wish my teammates and next year’s coaching staff the best of luck. I believe that Coach Andersen and his new staff will lead Wisconsin to great places. Also, I wish next year’s senior class the best; I know you possess the leadership and chemistry needed to excel.
Frederick's decision to leave early could be considered a surprise as he wasn't graded out highly by the NFL Draft Scouting serivces and also left a lot to be desired on the field down the stretch of his junior campaign. Perhaps Frederick saw having to play for another set of new coaches and wanted to leave as well, that's certainly a factor in this decision to some degree.
Some outside sources have Frederick as a late first round-mid second round grade and if that's the case in the new NFL coming out early should've been an easier decision than most thought.
So, what's next for Wisconsin? Look for redshirt freshman Dan Voltz to take over at center this next season barring any major shifts that could come with a new offensive line coach. Voltz looks to be a prototypical center for Wisconsin and was being groomed as such by Bielema and his staff before leaving for Arkansas.