MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Like a good receiver looking for an opening, Jared Abbrederis made a point to deliver an important message to the new Wisconsin coaching staff soon after they settled into their offices.
Abbrederis told offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig he planned to earn every second of playing time in 2013 — a commendable sentiment, but not necessarily one that needed to be sent by the team's top receiver.
Abbrederis' exemplary college career is about to come to an end. It features a record of hard work and deceptive quickness that helped produce a new standard at a program already known for producing quality walk-on players.
"When I first met Jared ... he just told me he wants to work for everything and that's all he's done," Ludwig said recently at a practice in Madison for the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1 against South Carolina. The 19th-ranked Badgers (9-3) are now in Florida getting ready for the game.
"Comes to work every day. Blue-collar team player," Ludwig said.
No wonder Abbrederis won this year's Burlsworth Trophy, a relatively new college football award for the most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. Abbrederis traveled to Arkansas this month to receive the honor.
Abbrederis didn't even start his career as a receiver, but as a walk-on quarterback. He's now second on the school's career receiving list with 3,110 yards, behind just Lee Evans' 3,468 yards.
Abbrederis has 1,051 yards receiving this year going into the Capital One Bowl, becoming just the third player in school history to go over the 1,000 yards in a season.
The senior admits he might play with a proverbial chip on his shoulder at times but "I don't think I tried to prove anything."
"I mean yeah, a times, it's nice to be able to prove that people are wrong like that, but that was never really the underlying determining factor," he said. "It's just because I love playing and love playing hard."