Biadasz focused on another big season for Badgers
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
Entering his second year as a starter for the University of Wisconsin football team, Amherst native Tyler Biadasz has begun to receive national attention as part of college football’s top offensive line, while the Badgers head into the 2018 season as a National Title contender.
The 6-3, 319-pound redshirt sophomore center is one of five starters back on the offensive line this season for fourth-ranked Wisconsin, which will host Western Kentucky in its season opener at Camp Randall Stadium at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31.
“I’m really excited,” said Biadasz. “Especially having the same group back and everything, it’s awesome to build relationships with the team even more.
“On offense, we only lost three or four guys, so it’s a really strong group,” he said. “And I’m excited to get back out there and compete and achieve our goals that we set.”
“He’s tough, he’s got great footwork, great work ethic, and I think the game is slowing down a little bit for him now after a year under his belt,” said Amherst High School football head coach Mark Lusic. “He’s just working his tail off to become the best player he can be, and get all of the calls right and make sure he does everything right.
“It’s exciting to see him out there, and to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated is even cooler,” he said. “And it looks like he’s enjoying himself.”
After winning a pair of State Titles in high school at Amherst, Biadasz redshirted during the 2016 season, then earned a starting spot at center heading into his redshirt freshman season last year.
Biadasz started all 14 games last season for the Badgers, who won their first 12 games and captured the Big Ten West Title on the way to a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game, where they suffered a 27-21 loss to Ohio State, before they came back with a win over Miami in the Orange Bowl to finish 13-1.
Along the way, Biadasz was named Third Team All-Big Ten by both the conference coaches and conference media, as well as a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today.
“More and more as we get older, it’s been fun watching him, and see him grow as a player,” said Wisconsin redshirt sophomore running back Garrett Groshek, who has been a teammate of Biadasz since their days of playing youth football together in Amherst. “Especially here, being able to go from the first game that he started, not being sure what was going on, to a guy that is just about ready for anything.
“And being able to see that mental side of the game, along with the all of the physical things too, has been something that’s been truly awesome to see,” he said.
“It was obviously a big role, but I was up for it,” said Biadasz of earning a starting spot. “I like challenges and I like competing, and that’s what I do.
“But last season, that was last season,” he said. “2017 was great, but we’re all focused on 2018. We know what this team can do, and we’re just focusing on that.”
Biadasz returns on the Wisconsin offensive line along with three All-Americans from a year ago in senior guard/tackle Michael Deiter, junior tackle David Edwards and senior guard Beau Benzschawel, while junior guard/tackle Jon Dietzen started 12 games in 2017.
“Obviously you need to keep growing and keep practicing, but I think having the offensive line back is huge,” said Biadasz. “These guys around me have been playing for two-years-plus as starters, so it’s definitely a huge advantage to have experience.
“But you have to compete every play, every game, every week,” he said.
The Badgers’ offensive line has drawn national attention heading into this season, as Biadasz was one of the Wisconsin linemen that joined college football analyst Trevor Matich on a fishing trip near Madison for a segment that aired on ESPN last month.
A few weeks ago, Biadasz was also pictured with Deiter, Edwards, Benzschawel and Dietzen on the regional cover of Sports Illustrated for its College Football Preview Issue, which included a feature story on the linemen, while the magazine predicted the Badgers would be ranked third in the nation heading into the four-team College Football Playoff at the end of this season.
“It’s very interesting, because you don’t really see O-linemen on covers like that, and get the appreciation,” said Biadasz. “You’re always looking through those Sports Illustrated magazines when you’re younger, and looking at this guy and everything, and (now) you’re on it, so it’s pretty cool.
“But that was in the summer, it’s over, it’s fall camp, so we’re not worrying about that now,” he said.
Along with the national media attention and on-the-field accolades, Biadasz and the Wisconsin linemen have also drawn attention from NFL scouts.
Over the last 10 years, Wisconsin has had the second-most offensive linemen selected in the NFL Draft, including Stevens Point native Ryan Ramczyk in the first round by the New Orleans Saints in 2017, while ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay projected Deiter, Edwards and Benzschawel as first round picks in 2019 immediately following last year’s draft.
Earlier this month, Pro Football Focus released its Top 5 NFL Draft prospects at every position and had Biadasz, who as a third-year sophomore would be eligible for next year’s draft, as its top-ranked interior offensive lineman for the 2019 Draft.
“I haven’t looked at any of that kind of stuff yet, and I highly doubt he has either,” said Lusic. “But that’s great, and I know Tyler, he’s just worried about this season and getting better, and all of that kind of stuff he’ll worry about in the off-season.”
“You just focus on your season, and I think you just focus on the day at hand,” said Biadasz, who was also named to the watch list for this season’s Outland Trophy, which is given to the nation’s top interior lineman. “Obviously the media will get out after you and you will have the interviews about it and everything, but realistically nothing can happen until after the season.
“So I will worry about that after the season, if anything,” he said. “Our team comes first out of everything.”
The Badgers kick off the season Friday night against Western Kentucky, as Biadasz will again block for an experienced group that includes a Heisman Trophy candidate in sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor and junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook, along with Groshek at running back.
And after starting 12-0 last season and coming up a win in the Big Ten Championship Game away from potentially reaching the four-team College Playoff, Biadasz is focused on helping Wisconsin make another run this season.
“Obviously you want to win every game,” said Biadasz. “You want to win your nonconference, and then you want to win the Big Ten West. And you want to win the Big Ten Championship, and you want to get into the Playoff and obviously win a National Championship.
“But it’s playing one game at a time, and getting after it,” he said. “The big thing is, taking each week and putting in full effort, maximizing every opportunity you can, and just coming out with a ‘W.’”
“I don’t know what his ceiling is, I know he’s not even close to it yet, but it’s exciting to watch him play,” said Lusic. “And like a lot of people in Amherst say, they never watched the center position before, but they sure watch it now.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” he said. “And if he can stay healthy and continue to get better and keep doing what he’s doing, it should be interesting to see what happens.”