Former Wisconsin Badgers WR Rob Wheelwright Q&A: On the NFL Draft, The Migos, Family and More

Rob Wheelwright's journey at Wisconsin was an interesting one, to say the least. After being a highly-touted recruit out of Walnut Ridge High School in Columbus, Ohio, Wheelwright battled injuries and issues with playing time in his first two seasons. Through adversity, he eventually won the starting wide receiver job during his last two seasons.

In his two years as a starter, he tallied 66 receptions, 874 yards and five touchdowns. Although his stats aren’t akin to other upper-echelon wide receivers, he was able to display an array of talent while playing in a run-heavy offense.

Since helping the Badgers to a Cotton Bowl victory over Western Michigan, Wheelwright has been a busy man. From playing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl to preparing for his upcoming Pro Day, he is doing everything in his power to achieve his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL.

Currently, Wheelwright is back in Wisconsin completing his degree and prepping for the 2017 NFL Draft. He took time out of his busy schedule to chat with TSFJ about the draft process, the Migos, continuing his family lineage in the NFL, and much more.

TSFJ: A lot of NFL Draft prospects train in places like Arizona, Florida and California. What made you stay in Wisconsin to train for the draft?

RW: By me training at school, I can work out with my teammates that's training for the draft. On top of that, I'm finishing my Bachelor's Degree.

TSFJ: When is your pro day?

RW: March 15. I wasn’t invited to the NFL Combine, therefore I have a chip on my shoulder to perform well with the NFL scouts in attendance.

TSFJ: You participated in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, how was that experience?

RW: The NFLPA was a great experience. It was great to compete against other guys that are chasing the same dream as me. Being there, I learned a lot from the coaches who previously coached in the NFL. The All-Star game was fun, but the practices and meetings were more important. In the practices, we were able to show our skills in one-on-one drills. After that, we would meet with NFL coaches to discuss the nuances of the game. It was cool for them to pick our brain on the mental aspect of the game.

TSFJ: At Wisconsin, you lined up at several wide receiver positions, do you think that can translate in the NFL?

RW: Absolutely. I am a versatile wide receiver, and I want to display my skills in any way possible. I can play the slot, the X and Y receiver spots. Given that I’ve played and excelled at all of those areas, I hope it can increase my chances in making a team and earning playing time.

TSFJ: What NFL wide receiver would you compare yourself to?

RW: Anquan Boldin. Boldin isn’t the fastest guy, but he is a big-bodied wide receiver that imposes his will on defensive backs. Seeing that he’s had a Hall of Fame-caliber career without being an elite athlete just shows you how hard he works on his craft. I’d like to follow the same blueprint.

TSFJ: Playing in the Big Ten and against other Power 5 conference universities, were there any cornerbacks that stood out when playing against you?

RW: I wouldn’t say there was an individual that stood out, but some of the teams used schemes that were successful. Surprisingly, some of the smaller schools such as Georgia State and Hawaii were just as aggressive if not more aggressive than the schools within our conference.

TSFJ: How does it feel to have a chance to carry the Wheelwright legacy in the NFL?

RW: To be honest, it’s a humbling, yet surreal feeling. My grandad (Ernie Wheelwright) played several years in the NFL (1964-1970), and my brother (Ernie Wheelwright IV) had a short stint with the Baltimore Ravens (2008-2010). Being able to carry that tradition would be amazing to the say the least.

TSFJ: Was there anything that was shared with you about life in the NFL?

RW: My brother, Ernie has explained to me about the ups and downs when playing in the league. He explained to me that in a sense you are used to being the main guy coming out of college, but it all changes in the big leagues. He told me that it’s all about doing what’s best for the team. Whether if it’s playing on the practice squad or on special teams, the team-first attitude is a must to have in the league. Most importantly, he mentioned that off-the-field, it's important to stay out of trouble and to keep a tight circle around you.

TSFJ: How did your college coaches prepare you for the next level from a physical and mental aspect?

RW: I believe the coaches did a great job of preparing myself at Wisconsin. I began my college career with Coach Chris Beatty as my position coach. He was a great in teaching us the fundamentals of football. After Coach Beatty left, Coach Ted Gilmore was my position coach my last two years. He treated us like professionals. Prior to coming to Wisconsin, he coached the wide receivers for the Oakland Raiders. Having the mentality of an NFL coach, his attention to detail prepared me well mentally. Although he wasn’t my coach, earning under my former teammate Jared Abbrederis helped tremendously.

TSFJ: I’m sure this is a tough question for you, but who’s the best teammate you’ve played with?

RW: That’s a tough one. Given that I’ve played with guys like Melvin Gordon, T.J. Watt and James White it’s tough to name one person. If I have to pick someone, I’m going with Jazz Peavy. Jazz and I have a tight bond, and he’s one of my closest friends. For me, I’ll call him my best teammate because of that. His ability on the field and his personality makes him a joy to be around. Regardless of the moment, he can tell a funny joke, but he also knows when it’s go time.

TSFJ: I have to ask this question for the culture, who is your favorite member of the Migos?

RW: Quavo! I gotta go with Quavo. That’s my guy.

TSFJ: I know you are looking forward to playing in the NFL, but how much will you miss the “Jump Around” celebration in Camp Randall Stadium?

RW: I will miss it a lot. Seeing 90,000 fans doing the jump around pumped us up on the field, and for opposing teams, it demoralized them—especially when they were losing.

TSFJ: Is there any NFL team in particular that you want to play for?

RW: No, I’m willing to play for whoever who wants me.

TSFJ: What will an NFL team get from you?

RW: They would get someone who is a high character guy that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. Stats are cool and all, but at the end goal is to win games. As a receiver, you want to catch 10 balls a game, but if it doesn’t result in wins, it’s pointless. Like at Wisconsin, if I have to block or catch a few passes here and there in order to win then I’ll do it.

TSFJ would like to thank Rob for this interview and wishes him good luck in the NFL Draft. To keep up with Rob’s journey to the NFL, follow him on Twitter @Rob_Wheels.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *