MADISON - Having one of the strongest walk-on programs in the country, Wisconsin has a history of having talented Midwest players turn down offers from other schools in order to grow and develop in the Badgers program. Alex Erickson is another one of those players.
The 6-foot Erickson turned down offers from North Dakota State, Winona State and other Division 2 and Division 3 opportunities in hopes of one day contributing on the field.
"With the walk-on program here, it's very encouraging for a guy like me," said Erickson. "It makes you feel like you are getting somewhere when you are working hard and getting compliments. It all seems like it's going to come together, so you have to keep believing and keep your faith that one day you'll be out there and helping out the team."
With career totals of 3,856 rushing yards and 57 touchdowns, 3,648 passing yards and 37 touchdowns and 170 tackles and 14 interceptions, Erickson is a true multi-dimensional athlete. Chosen to play in the WFCA All-Star game as a senior and was named the SWAL Conference Player of the Year, Erickson accounted for 2,489 total yards as Darlington High School's quarterback last season.
Upon coming to Wisconsin, Erickson is following in the path of former Wautoma athlete Jared Abbrederis by catching the ball instead of throwing it.
In the return of our popular series for subscribers, Badger Nation does a meet and greet with the newer members of the Wisconsin football team, shedding a light on some of the unknown kids that figure to be important parts of the Badgers' future.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What's been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Erickson: Definitely the academics. It's a challenge. It's grueling all the time. You have to keep up on your academics and fit football in your schedule, too. The time management and the academics were the two hardest things to get use to.
What's been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Erickson: It's a different position for me, since I have never played wide receiver before other than just messing around after practice. The speed, definitely, is a big adjustment. Coming from a smaller school, you don't have many of those fast kids. Not everybody is fast, big and strong in college, so just adjusting to the speed and physicality of the game is big for me.
Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?
Erickson: I've put on about 15-20 pounds. My overall speed and balance while running is better. I feel faster. Hard work pays off, but I have a long way to go so I am going to keep working every day. Coach Herbert challenges you every day mentally and physically to get you ready for the field.
What have you enjoyed about doing scout team work?
Erickson: There's no pressure really. You are out there working on your craft, trying to get as good as you can. It's about working on the stuff the coaches taught you in fall camp during individual drills.
How is Madison different than your home town of Darlington? What's the biggest difference?
Erickson: It is bigger, but there are a lot of people up here that I know. It wasn't too hard adjusting to Madison. My brother lives up here and my family doesn't live too far away. It wasn't too hard of an adjustment and I love it here, which makes it better.
Do you have any idea what you want to study in college?
Erickson: I am thinking about biology and go into premed or physical therapy. I would like to do something that stays around athletics, movement and exercise.
What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Erickson: Probably Memorial Union. I like sitting out at the lake with friends, eating ice cream and having a good time.
What's your least favorite place on campus?
Erickson: I don't know. I don't have a least favorite. I really don't have one.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Erickson: I love sitting on the couch and playing some video games with some friends. I like doing something where you aren't moving too much and you can rest your legs after practice. I enjoy the time I get off.
Who do you live with during the summer and who are you going to live with this fall? How are those relationships?
Erickson: I am not living with anybody on the team this year. I was going to live with a couple guys but things didn't work out. Things are going well with the people I live with.
What was summer conditioning like for you, and getting a chance to go through that with your new teammates?
Erickson: That was challenging. Every day was a grind. You would be lifting or running or conditioning. It was tough, but it was also nice to be able to go home, get something to eat and get a good recovery meal in so you can just focus on developing your body.
Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?
Erickson: I would say my family. My parents are very supportive. They are everywhere. They have been with me all the way and they continue to be there for me if I need somebody to talk to. I am also close with a couple of the guys that I can talk to at any time.
What's your parents reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?
Erickson: They were excited for me. It was a great opportunity for me to work hard every day and see what I could do. They are happy for me and encouraged me to work as hard as I can.
What's the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey?
Erickson: It gave me goosebumps running out of the tunnel. You see 80,000 people screaming. It's not something you get to experience every day and it's something that you have to be grateful for.