Football: How changed stretching habits revitalized Jazz Peavy’s career

first_imgJazz Peavy did not want to be that guy anymore, the type of player who is always hurt, whom the talent-recruiting analysts will look back at and say, “If only he had stayed healthy.”For Peavy’s first two seasons with the University of Wisconsin football team, it appeared the redshirt junior wide receiver would pan out that way. But Peavy refused to let this be the case. When he went home to Kenosha, Wisconsin this summer he made sure to implement the same strength and conditioning program he used a summer ago. That way, he could perform at an optimal level upon his return and minimize the risk of the bruises, sprains and strains that plagued him during his first two seasons.“The last thing I wanted was to come back and be that guy that wasn’t doing his part,” Peavy said.Peavy, the ninth-ranked recruit in the state when he joined the team, began to do his part and more. Following a redshirt season in 2013 where he played in just two games, Peavy crept onto the scene last season behind receivers Alex Erickson, who is now with the Cincinnati Bengals, and Robert Wheelwright, the fifth-year senior wideout.Peavy said the biggest factor in maintaining his health is constantly improving his flexibility, with an emphasis on his hamstrings.“It was just one of those things you just have to make sure you stay on top of all the time,” Peavy said. “You take a week, two weeks off, it’s hard to just jump back out there and go full speed. That’s how I kept getting injured, doing things like that. Now, I’m always stretching.”For the first time since coming to UW, Peavy was finally at full health last season. He played in all 13 games and started three last season, finding an expanded role when Wheelwright missed the final four games of the regular season. As the Badgers’ third receiver and usually fourth or fifth option in the passing game, Peavy caught 20 passes for 280 yards.That stretching has paid off this season, too. He caught a career-high seven passes for 100 yards along with his first two touchdowns as a Badger against Akron. Wheelwright also hauled in 99 yards, and for the first time in several seasons, the Badgers have a real chance of developing a one-two punch at wide receiver (see Toon, Nick and Abbrederis, Jared).This year, however, Peavy feels the receiving corps is deeper than it has ever been during his time at Wisconsin.“I feel like we have more options,” Peavy said. “I feel like we got more guys in more spots being involved in the offense.”Peavy said the strongest part of his game is route-running. He became aware of that early on, and worked to make it his biggest strength. But he also said there is still plenty to work on. Right now, he said making catches in traffic is something in need of the most improvement.“Making sure I’m focusing the ball all the way in,” Peavy said, “Not having any drops on contested catches.”UW wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore has watched Peavy’s development from a front-row seat, and agreed that Peavy’s strong suit is running routes. Gilmore said it is obviously important to get open and Peavy understands angles and pushes routes to do so.“Part of him getting open is him getting better at looking at the defense,” Gilmore said. “He’s gotten better at looking at the coverages and understanding where he needs to be, where the voids are.”Gilmore added Peavy frequenting the weight room has helped keep him on the field and an increased muscle mass has allowed him to fight through aches and pains, as well as to absorb the blows he takes during games from opposing defenders.Through the first four games of 2016, Peavy leads the Badgers in receptions (16) receiving yards (274) and receiving touchdowns (two), and it appears he is well on his way to having the best season of his career.“I feel like my confidence is way up right now,” Peavy said. “It’s been growing every day. Working on that all the time, Coach Gilmore let me know [I’m] doing a good job. I’m here. I’ve been doing my thing. I just got to keep growing.”And keep stretching.last_img read more