Wisconsin's Bredeson finds role quickly with Wolverines

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — On March 1 of his sophomore season in high school, offensive lineman Ben Bredeson received his first scholarship offer.

It was fitting for the Wisconsin native that it was from the Badgers, and it seemed only natural the top player in the state would accept and play for the program’s traditionally tough offensive line.

But often, things don’t go as some would assume.

Bredeson is a freshman guard at Michigan, which was attractive in large part by the staff and its NFL pedigree.

In the opener, with starting left guard Ben Braden out with a lower back strain, Bredeson saw considerable action. And since then, even after Braden’s return, he has rotated in.

“It surprised me, but I was obviously happy to be surprised with it,” said Bredeson, a freshman who is expecting plenty of family and friends at Michigan Stadium on Saturday when No. 4 UM faces No. 8 Wisconsin.

Mason Cole, Michigan’s junior center, started at left tackle when he was a freshman. He said Bredeson quickly began impressing during camp.

“He got in the groove of fall camp, and we got to see how good and talented he was at a young age,” Cole said. “It was pretty clear he could be able to play here at a young age.”

Braden has gone out of his way to help Bredeson with the adjustment to college football. The two roomed together during camp and in the hotel the night before games.

“He helped me with plays, protections, pregame tests, life, basically everything,” Bredeson said. “I had met him once during the recruiting process and we hit it off.”

Bredeson played tackle in high school and is focused solely on guard at the moment.

Michigan offensive coordinator and line coach Tim Drevno, however, is a proponent of having versatile linemen and having players who can slide into different spots on the line.

“In a perfect world I could bounce around and play all five spots by my senior year,” Bredeson said.

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Bredeson also was an avid hockey player growing up in Wisconsin, and first began skating when he was 3-years-old. Hockey was his “first love.”

Hockey is all about footwork, and Bredeson, who ultimately chose football just before high school, has found it translated to playing offensive line.

“It’s being light on your feet and being able to change direction quick and being able to read plays before it happens and read body language and just reaction, too,” Bredeson too. “That’s all hockey was. It translates to the offensive line world pretty well. Surprisingly well.”

Jack Bredeson, Ben’s older brother, is a sophomore pitcher on the Michigan baseball team. Growing up, the two played hockey and football together. Jack was a defensive end who considered walking on somewhere before realizing baseball was the game he really loved.

But while 6-foot-6, 220-pound Jack excelled at baseball, Ben quickly realized the sport was not his forte.

“I was very awful,” Bredeson said, laughing. “I was terrible.”

His issues with baseball are deep. He said could never hit a pitch off his brother.

“I’m terrified of the ball, and he’d throw at my head,” Bredeson said, laughing again. “I’ve tried. He’s tried to get me to not be afraid of the ball.

“He took me in the basement and threw balls at me for an hour. But I can’t hit. I can’t hit a baseball.”

Well, at least he has football.

Wisconsin at Michigan

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor

TV/radio: ABC/WWJ

Line: Michigan by 10

Records: No. 8 Wisconsin 4-0 (1-0 Big Ten), No. 4 Michigan 4-0 (1-0)

Series: Michigan leads 49-14-1 (Wisconsin 48-28, Nov. 20, 2010)


Twitter.com: @chengelis