Logan Bruss has felt the dynamics of the University of Wisconsin offensive line’s meeting room shift this offseason.
The Appleton product has preferred throughout his career to allow his actions to set the tone for the group and keep his talking to a minimum. But Bruss views it as his obligation to be a sounding board for his line-mates as he enters his fifth year in the program and third as a regular starter.
“Every time you get to your senior year, you kind of feel a responsibility that it’s kind of your time to take over the reins,” he said. “I think we have a real good thing going right now and I'm excited to see where it goes.”
Bruss has been one of the most consistent players on the Badgers’ offensive line the past two seasons, associate head coach and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph said. He and Jon Dietzen were the only two Badgers offensive linemen to start all seven games last season. The Duke’s Mayo Bowl in December was Bruss’ 26th start and 33rd career game.
He’s started games at both guard and tackle, which allows him to be a mentor for almost all of the offensive linemen.
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Tyler Beach, a senior tackle for UW and Bruss’ roommate, said the experience Bruss has carries weight when he’s giving players advice.
“Bruss is more of the quiet type of guy, but when he wants his voice heard and he speaks, he's going to speak,” Beach said. “I ask for help from him for tackle stuff and things like that, so I definitely view Bruss as a leader in the room.”
Rudolph said all Bruss' teammates need to do is watch film of practice and games to see how they can pattern their game off Bruss’ play.
“When you watch him, you're kind of like, ‘Damn, that dude is doing the stuff that I want to put on tape and he's cutting it loose and he's playing fast and there's the details,’” Rudolph said. “So I think he earns a voice through how he plays.”
Senior center Kayden Lyles spends a good deal of time with Bruss outside of football. They’re both industrial engineering majors and have shared a number of classes together. His relationship with Bruss off the field helps them bond on it.
“He's somebody that’s going to go out in the field and work every play, every opportunity that he has," Lyles said. "So it's something that when you're watching him that you pick up from."
Rudolph has Bruss back at right tackle this spring, the spot he played for 13 games of the 2019 season before playing mostly right guard in 2020. That move is part of a number of position switches Rudolph made along the offensive line to create competition at every spot.
Dividing reps this spring are: Bruss and redshirt freshman Trey Wedig at right tackle, redshirt freshman Jack Nelson and junior Michael Furtney at right guard, Lyles and redshirt freshman Tanor Bortolini at center, senior Josh Seltzner and junior Cormac Sampson at left guard, and Beach and sophomore Logan Brown at left tackle.
“I think every time a guy comes here, that's what you want, a competition and being pushed by the guys next to you,” Bruss said. “I think it's a healthy competition, though, because I think sometimes competition gets to the point where you want the guy that you're competing with to fail, and I don't think it's like that at all.”
Transitioning back to tackle requires Bruss to re-learn certain techniques and adjust to having more space to his outside shoulder when pass blocking. Still, he said tackle is the position he’s most comfortable playing.
Having a reliable, seasoned starter at right tackle is a good step toward getting the Badgers offense kick-started after a down year in 2020.
“It just gives you a different appreciation for the game,” Bruss said about playing multiple positions. “You understand a lot more coming from a different spot and hopefully I can use some of those experiences I had at guard last year to help me be even better at tackle.”