MADISON - 2013 didn’t go exactly how Dan Voltz thought it would. After redshirting in 2012, the University of Wisconsin center expected to slide right into the starting spot vacated by Travis Fredrick, who left school early and was taken in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. That didn’t happen.
Voltz entered fall camp as the starter but got injured early. That led to position changes along the line, with Dallas Lewallen moving from left guard to center, Ryan Groy from left tackle to left guard and Tyler Marz sliding into the left tackle spot.
Though Voltz recovered from the hamstring injury, and returned to practice before the end of camp, UW rolled with the revamped line. That left the Barrington, Illinois native on the sideline for the first four weeks of the season. An injury to Lewallen gave Voltz his first career start at Ohio State. And while the Badgers lost the game, Voltz got solid marks from offensive line coach T.J. Woods.
Lewallen returned the following week before another injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. That led to Voltz starting the final five games of the year despite playing at less than 70-percent due to his own injury issues. He and Lewallen missed spring practice, but both are expected to be ready for fall camp.
“They’re doing great,” offensive line coach T.J. Woods said of the health for Voltz, Lewallen and right guard Kyle Costigan. “All of them are progressing well. It’s going to be a little bit of a management issue with them (like) reps and limiting some of the things they do. All three of those guys, Kyle (Costigan), Dallas (Lewallen) and Dan (Voltz) have proved they can get the job done when the lights are on and when it matters. So for us, it’s really about trying to get to the fight.”
That’s not saying that Voltz and the others don’t need time on the field together. Having continuity along an offensive line is vital, especially for a center. They are the quarterback along the line and play a significant role in making the calls and accounting for everyone on defense.
Heading into last season the 6-foot-3, 313-pound, Voltz was well aware of the strong history of centers at Wisconsin. He knew about Mike Webster, Corey Raymer and Casey Rabach. He has aspirations to match what they accomplished during their time in Madison. Though his first season was a roller-coaster, he did enough to be named to the Rimington Award watch list – along with 64 others – earlier this summer.
“I don’t see it as pressure,” Voltz said last season of living up to UW’s centers of the past. “I see it as an opportunity…It’s a tradition here to play center. I’m just trying to fill in those footsteps.”
Most Important Badgers
1) July 25
2) July 24
3) July 23
4) July 22
5) July 21
6) C Dan Voltz
About the 2014 Most Important Badgers:
This is not a list of the best players on this year’s squad. Instead, we asked a number of ESPN Wisconsin personalities to rank the 15 players that are most vital to the Badgers success in 2014. They were told their rankings should be based on what players hold the key to UW competing for a Big Ten title or more in Gary Andersen's second year as coach. Factors that came into play were past success, what was said about them by their coaches this offseason and what type of season could be expected from that particular player.
The list does not include any incoming freshmen, because we have yet to see them on the field as college players.