Biadasz, Groshek ready for Bowl Game
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
Former Amherst High School standouts Tyler Biadasz and Garrett Groshek of the University of Wisconsin football team will cap the 2018 season with a trip to New York City.
Longtime teammates since their days of youth football, the redshirt sophomores will play against the University of Miami (7-5) in a bowl game for the second year in a row, when the Badgers (7-5) take on the Hurricanes in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium at 4:15 p.m. Central time Thursday, Dec. 27.
“It’s always an awesome opportunity,” said Groshek. “You get to extend your season, not only for the game, but for the practices, too.”
“I’m pumped to play another game with these guys,” said Biadasz. “I know we didn’t end the last game right with them, so I’m pumped about finishing the season with the win.
“That’s our goal,” he said.
It has been an up-and-down season for Wisconsin, which entered this fall ranked fourth in the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll, after the Badgers finished 13-1 in 2017.
Wisconsin bounced back from an early-season loss at home to BYU (24-21) with wins at Iowa (28-17) and at home against Nebraska (41-24), but suffered road losses at Michigan (38-13), Northwestern (31-17) and Penn State (22-10), before a 37-15 loss at home to Minnesota in the regular-season finale Nov. 24 left the Badgers 7-5 overall.
“We’re just coming up short a little bit in some games,” said Biadasz. “Honestly, we just have not ended games really the way we wanted to.
“We’ve always been in games, and sometimes we kick ourselves in the butt,” he said. “But we’re a full-effort team, we have a lot of effort going into all of our games, and sometimes you’re just on the other end of it.”
“Adversity for us, that’s what it really came down to,” said Groshek. “Losing guys here and there, kind of losing our edge a little bit, and beating ourselves most of the time.
“We didn’t play Wisconsin football,” he said. “And that’s something that we want to get back to for this bowl game, and end it right.”
A converted quarterback, Groshek earned increased playing time at running back throughout last season as a walk-on redshirt freshman, and then was put on scholarship before this season, when he went on to earn the role as the team’s third-down running back.
Groshek enters the Pinstripe Bowl third on the Badgers in rushing this season (410 yards and one touchdown on 62 carries, 6.6 yards per carry), behind sophomore First Team All-American Jonathan Taylor, who won the Doak Walker Award given to the nation’s top running back, and senior Taiwan Deal, in arguably the top running back group in college football this season.
“It’s really awesome being able to work with those guys every day,” said Groshek, who also ranks fourth on the Badgers in receptions this season with 23 catches for 153 yards and one touchdown. “Chris (James) is included in that, and Alec (Ingold) as well, it’s just a really special group of guys.
“It’s been so fun this season, and win, lose or draw, I’ll be able to call those guys family for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s really been a privilege being able to play this entire season with them.”
“I’ve loved playing with Garrett, because we’re always on with communication, I can count only on one hand how many times we’ve been off on communication,” said Biadasz. “He’s a great guy to just watch film with too, we live together and we like to talk about the film and everything, and he’s a football junkie.
“He’s taken his level of play up since last year, and I think that came with really being a pro at what you’re doing and training yourself to be the best you possibly can be,” he said. “He’s been a really great running back on third down, and obviously our other running backs are great, too.”
Biadasz entered this fall in his second year as a starter at center for the Badgers, after he was a Third Team All-Big Ten selection as a redshirt freshman by both the conference’s coaches and media.
He went on to earn First Team All-Big Ten honors this year from both the conference’s coaches and media, and was named the First Team All-American center by Pro Football Focus (PFF) and Honorable Mention All-American by College Football News, as he’s helped Taylor lead the nation in rushing and the Badgers rank seventh in the country with 268.4 rushing yards per game.
“He’s stepped up, and he’s done the same thing he’s done since we were growing up in elementary school, he’s just gotten better every single year and takes advantage of every single opportunity that he gets,” said Groshek. “Whether it’s in practice, in the film room, or anything he can do to make himself a better football player, you know that he’s going to do it, and you can see how it’s paying off for him.
“Getting all of those honors, he definitely deserves them,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to find too many guys that put in more time and effort than he does.”
“It definitely means a lot, checking stuff off of my goals that I’ve had this season,” said Biadasz. “It’s been a privilege to play with the group I’m with, and it’s been an awesome season.
“I’m not thrilled about how our wins and losses columns are, but I wouldn’t trade this group for anybody, and it’s been fun playing with them,” he said. “And you get a good feeling that you’re ranked the top center on Pro Football Focus, but it just motivates you to stay there.”
Eligible to declare for the NFL Draft after this season as a redshirt sophomore, Biadasz was the third-ranked center on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Big Board in November, and is the top-ranked center by PFF and the second-ranked center (and 58th player overall) by CBS Sports.
Biadasz recently submitted his named to the NFL’s College Advisory Committee, which advises underclassmen on their draft prospects before they officially declare, and he will have until Jan. 14 to decide if he’ll enter the NFL Draft.
“I’m seeing what my options are and whether to go, or not to go,” said Biadasz. “I’m just taking it all in and seeing what my options are and talking to my family.
“They have a big part in it, and it’s just seeing what’s best for me and my future,” he said.
During their redshirt season, Biadasz and Groshek traveled with the Badgers to the Cotton Bowl for the team’s 24-16 win over Western Michigan at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Last year they both had a hand in Wisconsin’s 34-24 over Miami at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
Next week, they’re looking forward to try and help the Badgers win their fifth consecutive bowl game, and make some more memories along the way.
“So far I’ve been pretty lucky,” said Groshek. “The Cotton Bowl was an absolutely second-to-none experience, from the moment we got there until the moment we left. And then the Orange Bowl, I mean you’re down in Miami, so there’s nothing really to complain about there, and that was just an awesome experience.
“And now being able to play in Yankee Stadium, even though it’s a baseball stadium, it’s still got some rich tradition when it comes to football, and it will be pretty cool to see New York in Christmastime,” he said. “I would never go to New York for Christmas if I was just a regular student, and this is something that you get to do and you get it paid for. You get to go experience all of these different cities and see all of the different cultures, and that’s the cool thing about it.”
“Last year in Florida, we got to go on jet skis in the ocean, and I had never been in the ocean on a jet ski in the middle of it, it’s scary, but it’s a really fun experience,” said Biadasz. “But bowl games are huge, and it’s an opportunity for us to spend a week together one last time for that season, and with the seniors.
“You definitely get to cherish those last moments with your team,” he said. “And for us this year, like last year, you get to prove yourself one last time, coming off a loss, and really send these seniors off right.”