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April 26, 2013 | 12:27 AMSharon native and former Big Foot football star Travis Frederick proved all the haters wrong Thursday night.
The 6-foot-4, 335-pound center was drafted No. 31 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Frederick is the highest-drafted player in area history and the only first-rounder.
The former Wisconsin Badger carried on the Bucky tradition of linemen being taken in the first round. This was the third straight year a Badger has been selected among the first 32 picks.
Many experts liked Frederick, but they thought his 40-yard dash time of 5.56 seconds at the NFL Combine would drop Frederick to the third round or worse.
But when it came to football skills, especially run blocking and knowledge of the game, Frederick is one of the best linemen in the draft. He was all-Big Ten last year and anchored an offensive line that helped running back Montee Ball break the all-time NCAA touchdown record.
When I saw that Frederick was drafted No. 31 overall, I admit I was surprised. I was holding out hope he would fall to my Green Bay Packers in the second or third round.
I immediately texted congratulations to Frederick and asked if he was surprised to go in the first round.
"Only somewhat," Frederick replied.
He spoke to Dallas/Fort Worth radio station 105.3 The Fan late Thursday night.
"I didn't really expect to be drafted in the first round, really," Frederick told The Fan. "I thought I was more of a second round kind of guy. The Cowboys, when they traded down, I thought that might be an option for me. They had shown some pretty good interest in me. I knew they needed a little help solidifying up the middle."
Frederick started 31 games at Wisconsin, with 18 coming at center and 13 at left guard. He could replace Phil Costa as the Cowboys' starting center or play either guard position.
"I think I play both (positions) about the same," Frederick said. "With today's NFL rosters being so small, it's definitely helpful to have a guy that can play both."
Frederick was right about his 40 time. He said in a recent interview with the Regional News that football skills are more important for an offensive lineman. He said he didn't think his 40 time was a good barometer for his ability.
Frederick joins offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and Kevin Zeitler as first-round picks from Wisconsin in the last three years. Carimi went No. 29 to Chicago in 2011, while Zeitler was taken at No. 27 by Cincinnati last year. Former Wisconsin center Peter Konz, whom Frederick replaced on the line last season, went 55th to Atlanta a year ago as well.
Frederick becomes the first center to be selected in the first round since Florida's Mike Pouncey went No. 15 to the Miami Dolphins in the 2011 draft.
"I think it's going to be a great fit down there in Dallas," Frederick said. "I'm excited for a chance to get down there. I think it's a great team that's just sitting and waiting, and it's going to really jump up here and have a great shot to compete for a Super Bowl championship."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett called Travis moments before drafting him.
"We're proud to have you," Jones said. "We really wanted to bolster up the center of our line, and you do it for us."
Listen to audio of the phone conversation here: http://bit.ly/10gKHPS