By Larry Lage, AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Ben Bredeson had a chance to cash in on his potential this year in the NFL.
The All America offensive guard, though, chose to stay at Michigan for his senior season and to take out an insurance policy, providing some financial protection if an injury hurts his stock in the draft.
Bredeson acknowledged he has “not much” money in the bank right now.
“I’m a college kid,” he said, shrugging his broad shoulders.
And, Bredeson does not regret the college-over-money choice he made.
“I absolutely feel good about my decision every single day,” he said. “By the time I’m done here in December, I will have graduated and played four years with the best friends I could’ve at Michigan. I was able to take three trips overseas to see two different continents all over the world.
“The things I’ve been able to do here have just been unimaginable when I was 17 making this decision.”
When the 11th-ranked Wolverines (2-0) play the 13th-ranked Badgers (2-0) Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, he will get another chance to let the home team it let one of the state’s top recruits get away.
“He’s a really good player and it looks to me like he loves playing the game,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “He’s a leader on their team and that says a lot. I have a ton of respect for him.”
Bredeson was a highly touted recruit in Hartland, Wisconsin, at Arrowhead High School about 50 miles east of the Badgers’ campus. Bredeson estimated about one-third of his graduating class attends Wisconsin.
Like everyone around him, he grew up rooting for the Badgers on Saturday and Green Bay on Sunday.
“There’s no other football school there and you grow loving the Badgers and the Packers. You don’t have much of an option,” Bredeson said. “Throughout the recruiting process, they were there from the beginning and all the way to the end.”
Jim Harbaugh was in his first full recruiting year at Michigan when he signed Bredeson, a key player he needed to improve one of the weak links of the program inherited from fired coach Brady Hoke.
“Somebody that was older than his years when we were recruiting him, a mature guy physically,” Harbaugh recalled.
Bredeson has lived up to the billing, starting a team-high 35 games during his three-plus year career. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Bredeson was a second team All-America player last year.
“Takes it real seriously,” Harbaugh said. “He’s very dedicated. He’s been plus, plus, plus at everything.”
Bredeson is big, talented and experienced enough to coast in college and do well on the field. Instead, he has pushed himself to constantly improve his fundamentals and techniques to be one of the best linemen not in the NFL. He regularly leans on offensive line coach Ed Warninner for advice and also asks former Michigan and NFL offensive lineman Jon Jansen for tips.
“He has really developed over the last couple of years by concentrating on the little things like the way he takes his first step and where his puts his hands,” Jansen said. “When NFL coaches and scouts are looking at him, they’ll see a player who got better at something during each of his four years and that’s what they want to see.”
Long before he plays with pros, Bredeson wants to see the new-look offense he is a part of to perform closer to its potential.
The Wolverines opened with a lackluster win over Middle Tennessee and barely beat Army in double overtime in large part because they have lost five fumbles, dropped a lot of passes and have been called for many penalties during plays and before the ball has been snapped.
“It’s different running this offense in practice when you can script looks and react to things and learned a lot in that Army game,” Bredeson said. “Having the bye week and addressing the issues right away was huge.”
Michigan does not have much more time to get its offense in rhythm because it will likely be tested by the Badgers.
“This offense is complicated and there’s a lot of moving parts to it,” Bredeson said. “I’ve seen it both sides when we’re struggling in practice and nothing is right and I’ve seen it when it’s clicking and there’s no way to stop it. We just need to get that full stride in a game still.
“Going against the No. 1 defense so far in the country, I’m looking forward to running this against them.”