Abbrederis Overcame Adversity to Arrive at NFL's Doorstep

- (WFRV-TV) - A lot of people view Wautoma, Wisconsin as a place to drive through to get from here to there.

But the city's favorite son, Jared Abbrederis, may have never gotten where he did at the University of Wisconsin, If it wasn't for his time growing up in Wautoma.

"I remember when I was a kid," said Abbrederis in a interview with Local 5 recently.  "If I saw a high school player I was like 'oh look at that."

By the time he was a senior for the Hornets, Abbrederis was the player everyone was looking at.

"The biggest memory from high school would just be state football," said Abbrederis.  "We had a lot of guys growing up that our dream was to win state for Wautoma football."

Led by Abbrederis, a  1st team all-state quarterback that dream was realized in 2008 when Wautoma captured the first and only championship in program history.

Then in the spring, Abbrederis almost single-handedly led the Hornets to the State Track and Field Title with a performance that included two first place finishes, a second place finish, and two state records, one in the 300 meter hurdles that still stands today.

But all that success as a senior was never a given after Abbrederis suffered a gruesome injury, breaking his leg and tearing the ACL in his knee as a sophomore on the gridiron.

"Basically if you or I broke your femur and tore your ACL we'd be down for the count for probably a year," said then-assistant and current Wautoma head football coach Mike Klieforth.  "But he's a kid that used that as a goal.  He set that on his table.  Hey we're going to overcome this, we're going to do it immediately."

And it was not long before Abbrederis was back competing in athletics.

"Just to be able to go through that adversity and overcome and to get back," said Abbrederis.  "Six months from the day, I was at the State Track Meet and placed 4th and 5th in the hurdles.  That was just a blessing and a miracle of God just to be able to get back that fast."

With zero Division 1 scholarship offers, Abbrederis ended up walking on to play football at Wisconsin where he continued to defy the odds.

"It's hard to make it as a walk on, but if you take advantage of the couple of opportunities that you do get you'll have a chance."

By his sophomore season Abbrederis started all 14-games

"Going into Wisconsin and being a walk-on, barely even making the 105 right away to playing the next year," said Klieforth.  "That all goes back to that mentality from when he broke his leg.  He put that as a goal he was going to accomplish and he did it."

That was just the beginning of his accomplishments as Abbrederis finished his career tied for first all-time in receptions, second in receiving and touchdown catches, while also ranking 8th all-time for most receiving yards by a Big Ten receiver.

He also won the Burlsworth Trophy given to the best player in the country to begin his career as a walk-on.

Now on to the next step, the NFL.  Many critics are saying Abbrederis is not strong enough, fast enough, or able to stay healthy enough to make it at the next level.  But he's heard all that stuff before.

"Honestly I really don't care what people think," said Abbrederis.  "Obviously I'll take the criticism and try to work on the things that you need to improve on, but I don't take it as insults or anything like that.  I just keep working hard. 

So what's he heard directly from the people that matter, the NFL teams?

"It's all been positive, had a lot of positive feedback," said Abbrederis.  "Just talking to the different coaches and teams and with my agent.  But you don't really know until the day, obviously anything can happen."

And given his background, no matter what happens, Abbrederis will be ready.  As for draft day, her plans to spend it low-key back home in Wautoma with family.  Meanwhile the city of 2,200 people and many other Abbrederis fans around the state will cross their fingers for one certain scenario.

"Where's he going?" said Klieforth.  "Hopefully only an hour and forty (minutes) down the road."

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