December 28, 2011 | 07:43 AMMADISON — He can squat more than 700 pounds.
He was the salutatorian of his class in 2008 at Big Foot High School, along with being an all-state lineman on both sides of the ball. Among various accolades, Frederick was named the 2008 Regional News Male Athlete of the Year for his repeated pancake blocks and harassment of opposing quarterbacks.
He grew up in a small town of 1,500 people where antique cars rule, and a trip to the nearest McDonald's will take at least a half-hour out of your day.
Today, 21-year-old Travis Frederick lives in a much bigger town, Madison, and his football prowess has turned him into a starter on the offensive line for the 2011 Big Ten champion Wisconsin Badgers.
A double major in computer science and computer engineering, Frederick is focused on graduating from Wisconsin.
But his talent can't be denied. As a redshirt sophomore this season, Frederick has mostly started at left guard but has also played center for the 11-2 Badgers. At 6-foot-4, 330 pounds, he has the size to make it in the National Football League. And earning second-team all Big Ten honors in his first full season as a starter puts him on the right track.
On Dec. 20, around 9 p.m., Frederick walked off the field of the McClain Center, UW's indoor practice facility, to address the media after practice.
Before moving along to reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Madison-area publications, Frederick talked with the Regional News about playing for Wisconsin, going home for Christmas and the benefits of versatility on the offensive line.
RN: Are you a star on campus yet?
TF: I'm not fully recognizable. I try to keep it that way. It's kind of nice.
RN: How was growing up in Sharon?
TF: I grew up in town. I went to grade school in Sharon. I played a lot of football with my older brother Tyler and younger brother Collin. I learned a lot from my high school coaches at Big Foot.
RN: Did you ever dream of playing college football?
TF: I didn't think about it until I was a freshman in high school. I asked coach Rodney Wedig about what I could do to get a chance to play college football. And he really helped me out.
RN: Are you parents athletic?
TF: My dad played high school football, and my mother is the brains of the operation. They always made sure we were active and playing outside.
RN: How is school going so far?
TF: It's not going quite as well as I hoped, but it's going. I hope to graduate in four and a half years. I'm over halfway there.
RN: What have been some obstacles?
TF: It's a lot to have on your plate. You're spending 20-60 hours at the football facility a week. You have class, and there's 14 hours a week there.
You're supposed to spend three hours per credit outside of class. I spend a lot of time at the library or computer lab. I go to sleep around 1 or 2 a.m. and wake up around 7:30 a.m. I do some homework before class. It's been a long time since I've gotten eight hours of sleep.
RN: You've had a lot of national recognition. How is handling the media?
TF: Dealing with them is pretty easy. Most people are pretty nice. Every once in a while, you get someone out to get you. Around here, that doesn't usually happen.
RN: Any NFL aspirations?
TF: That's not something I'm really planning on doing. I'm planning on graduating with a double degree from Wisconsin. What's most important to me right now is getting my degree. But you can't really turn anything down.
RN: Who is your favorite NFL team?
TF: I'm going to go with the Bears. All the Wisconsin Packer fans hate me. But I'm not one of those Bears fan who hates the Packers.
RN: You will be starting in the Rose Bowl Monday. How different is this year from last year's Rose Bowl?
TF: I didn't play in last year's Rose Bowl. The preparation is similar. I'm going to get a chance to play, and that is very exciting.
RN: Do you like playing several positions on the offensive line?
TF: I think it's very valuable. I can play three positions. It really helps with depth late in the season if guys go down.
RN: How different are things now from your first start in 2009?
TF: I've definitely grown. The more time you spend, the more reps you take, the better you're going to be. I've grown in all areas, and I've been thankful for the experience. As far as maturity, spending time away from home, you have to take care of your own things.
RN: What are your thoughts on the team this season?
TF: I knew coming into this season, chemistry is what makes the team. The chemistry is great this year.
We stay level-headed as a team and keep moving forward. That paid off in the championship game (win over Michigan State).
RN: What do you do in your free time?
TF: I like to play golf and scuba dive in the summer and spring. I play video games with my roommates.
I like hanging out with them and watching movies.
RN: Do you ever get back to Sharon?
TF: I was home recently for a family Christmas party. We're getting a couple days off for Christmas. Sometimes, it's hard to get away.
I haven't been home for Christmas since senior year of high school (2007). It's one of the benefits of playing in bowl games.
RN: What would you say to those interested in playing college sports?
TF: Just stick to it. Whatever situation you're dealing with, whether you're not doing as well in sports as you want or in school you're not fitting in, stick with it. If you can keep a level head through things, it will all pan out in the end.
RN: Favorite movie?
TF: Star Wars series. I'll go with "The Empire Strikes Back."
RN: Favorite music?
TF: I like country music.
I like all country artists, including Tim McGraw.