Some may argue that newly-drafted center Tyler Biadasz was born to play the position. While those statements may not be incorrect, it still took close to 19 years for the 2019 Remington Trophy winner to play center, the spot that eventually led him to the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick by the Cowboys.
There is a common misconception amongst casual football fans that when a draft prospect excels at a certain position, they must have played it their entire career. While it certainly helps to have repetition and familiarity with a certain spot on the field, there have been plenty of generational NFL talents that made a positional switch and shifted the outlook of their legacy.
Warren Sapp, Richard Sherman, Julian Edelman, Hines Ward, and Antonio Gates are just a few of the household names that made a late transition to a completely different position. For every one of those names, the flip ultimately ended up as the correct decision and even defined who they were as players.
The same can be said for Biadasz, a center out of Wisconsin who was, believe it or not, solely recruited as a defensive lineman out of high school. Rated as a three-star defensive end by most collegiate recruiting services, the Wisconsin native was seldom recruited with just five total offers. Southern Illinois, Western Illinois, Illinois State and South Dakota State were the only programs to offer Biadasz a scholarship. That was, until he elected to attend the University of Wisconsin football camps.
"I went to the camp at Wisconsin and played defense. I did very well and competed," Biadasz said. "They just didn't know what I would be good at or what their needs were heading into that year."
Despite the uncertainty, Biadasz still turned heads and caught the attention of the Badgers' coaching staff, who eventually told him he was the 'best lineman at the camp.' Shortly thereafter, he received his fifth and final offer as he knew he was destined play in Madison. One thing that he didn't know, was what position he was going to play for the program.
"A lot of colleges, besides Wisconsin, wanted me more so as a defensive end or defensive tackle," Biadasz explained. "In high school that's what I was known for and recruited for. … So I really didn't know whether I was going to play defense or offense. I came in on day one and saw my locker with 61 on it, knee braces, O-Lineman shoes and I was like, "Okay, here we go!'"
The decision had been made to move Biadasz, who had never snapped a football in his career, to the center position and groom him to become the new anchor of the offensive line. No easy task for a freshman entering a program that is known for prolific running attacks that had featured backs such as Melvin Gordon and Monte Ball in recent years.
Because of the success that the Badgers experienced running the ball before Biadasz stepped foot on campus, it provided him an opportunity to learn the position from those who had played it so well before. While former Cowboy Travis Frederick had graduated well before then, players like Michael Deiter (Remington Trophy Watch List), and Brett Connors helped Biadasz pick up the position during his redshirt season in 2016.
"I had very good role models of offensive linemen in front of me to look up to and strive to be like," Biadasz said. "To create my craft and what I wanted it to look like along the way. I was also blessed with great coaches that have developed some great offensive linemen that have gone to the NFL."
In 2017, his time as the starter arrived and he didn't surrender it again until he declared for the NFL Draft three years later. Biadasz started in 41 straight games, all at center, from his redshirt freshman year to the end of his junior season. In that time, he blocked for one of the nation's top running games led by Indianapolis' second round draft pick Jonathan Taylor.
With the help of Biadasz, Taylor became the first player in FBS history to rush for more than 6,000 yards in three seasons – a heavy workload that prominently featured Biadasz and helped him earn the school's first Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center, in 2019.
"We made some very historic runs and made history in a lot of ways." Biadasz reflected. "I'm very thankful and I was blessed to be a part of that tradition. I thought I maximized a lot of my opportunities and developed into the person I am today."
Now as Biadasz has his sights set on his rookie season with the Cowboys, he reflects on the decision that was made to move him to center, and how things could have been different if he would've stayed on the defensive line.
"My time there was great," Biadasz said. "My defensive coordinator told me two years down the road, 'I tried to get you back on defense, but Coach Rudolph wouldn't let me.'"
It's safe to say that things on the offensive line worked out for the best for both the Badgers and more specifically for Biadasz after he was selected by Dallas with the 146th overall pick in this year's draft. During an unprecedented virtual 2020 offseason, he learned from the new coaching staff and worked out from his home in Wisconsin.
Along with the virtual workouts, Biadasz has also had to rehab from a minor AC joint shoulder surgery that he says is completely healed and shouldn't affect him heading into the year.
"I feel great, I'm ready to go and everything's back. Ready to play football again," Biadasz said. "The amount of time this coaching staff has spent with us has been immense and means a lot to each of us rookies."
With a starting position up for grabs, and a rookie season ahead, it's no surprise to hear his name in the thick of conversation. Alongside Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, and Connor Williams, the battle for the center spot will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the summer. But right now, it's definitely worth a look back at how far Biadasz has come in such a short time and imagine just how far he can go in the NFL.