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'Badgering' Garrett Graham: Up close with UW's star tight end

Senior tight end Garrett Graham is one of 30 tight ends in the country to be named to the John Mackey Award Watch List, an award former UW tight end Travis Beckum nearly won in 2007. Tuesday I had a chance to catch up with Graham and here is our conversation:

B5Q: With the talent Wisconsin has had at the tight end position in recent years has a brotherhood developed there?

Graham: You might say that. Going back to Owen Daniels and Jason Pociask -- they were seniors when I came in -- I got to know them fairly well and I see them every once in a while when they come back. Posciak especially kind of helped me out when I was younger. And then with Travis [Beckum] -- he and I are great friends. I just saw him about a week ago. He was here getting ready for camp [with the New York Giants] and whatever they are doing out there. So you could say there is a brotherhood, somewhat. We're all pretty close and a tight knit group.

B5Q: So you still talk to Owen Daniels and Jason Posciak from time-to-time?

Graham: Yeah, whenever they are in Madison I usually talk to them. Pociask actually came to our bowl game and I spoke to him. He was on the sideline. He's a really good guy. So yeah, I keep in touch with them as much as I can.

B5Q: What's it like to have three former tight end teammates in the NFL? It has to be something to look up to as far as your personal goals are concerned.

Graham: Yeah I mean I love watching Owen on T.V. and following him and seeing how he is doing. I think it will definitely help me out later when I can give those guys a call for suggestions and advice and things like that.

B5Q: Do you have Owen on your fantasy team?

Graham: I don't have a fantasy team. I've never played, but if I did I'd be taking him.

B5Q: Where's your blocking at going into this season?

Graham: I'd say as good as it's been. I've really worked on it hard and at our school you really have to be a blocker. I've kind of focused on being a complete tight end -- being able to run routes and catch balls but then being able to block on a power play. I'm happy where it's at now. There's always room for improvement, but I feel like it's the best it has been so far.

B5Q: There's been talk that fellow tight end Mickey Turner could be used as a fullback this year. Can you tell us anything more about that?

Graham: Occasionally both of us kind of pop back into that fullback position through a motion or a shift, but yeah, Mickey is more of a guy to do that. He enjoys it and he's good at it. So you might see him in the backfield more now that we lost Chris Pressley and Bill Rentmeester to the NFL. But when he does do it, I think he'll do a great job.

B5Q: Which freshmen are you excited about going into this season?

Graham: I'm not really sure what the freshmen on the defense can do yet. I haven't really seen their skills yet. But [quarterback] Jon Budmayr came in early and I saw what we can do. He really impressed a lot of us. Also, [offensive lineman] Travis Frederick. He's a really strong kid in the weight room. We call him "Big Thunder" just because of the amount of weight he can lift. On the squat rack he's a real beast in the weight room.

B5Q: In what ways will Lance Kendricks fill in the shoes of Travis Beckum and are you guys going to even skip a beat even though you lost him to the NFL?

Graham: Well Travis is a great talent and hopefully Lance can fill his shoes, but Lance is really focused and matured and kind of come into his own. He watches a lot of film, he studies the game and he knows what to expect. His route running is great and he's got great hands. You know, last year I think he struggled in a couple games because it was his first time and he was a little flustered, but this year I expect nothing but good things from him so I'm excited to see him play.