After two seasons on the San Francisco 49ersí roster, Fremd High School standout Scott Tolzien landed a spot on the Green Bay Packersí practice squad just before the start of the 2013 regular season.
For the 26-year-old Tolzien, the role with the Packers represents a chance for the third-year quarterback from Wisconsin to continue his NFL career after being let go by the Niners in August.
It is also an opportunity to play with his favorite team.
ďAs a little guy, I thought their uniforms were cool and got a Packers No. 4 jersey on my golden birthday, September 4, from my dad,Ē Tolzien explained via email this week. ďA couple years later Brett Favre, who also wore No. 4, took over, and I was hooked.Ē
The Daily Herald checked in with Tolzien this week to chat on a variety of topics, including life on the practice squad, working with Aaron Rodgers and his days at Fremd.
Q. What appealed to you about the opportunity with the Packers?
A. Well, first of all, when youíre a free agent, you have the choice to pick your team, but ultimately, it all begins with who has interest in you. And so the Packers were one of those teams, which I was thankful for.
And then you kind of do your research, and it seemed like a good fit. A lot of their backups have had a lot of success in recent history, and I was actually really familiar with the coaching staff all the way back to my time at University of Wisconsin following the Packers.
Q. Take us through a typical week on the practice squad and working with the Packersí scout team. Whatís it like?
A. First and foremost, the practice squad here is an extension of the 53-man roster. Really, everything is the exact same, except your paycheck at the end of the week is different. But with that being said, youíre still preparing as if youíre playing in the game.
Really, my role as a No. 3 quarterback is do everything I can to help Aaron and to help our offense win, and also, like you said, give the defense a look in practice. But as far from a preparation standpoint, itís not like thereís two separate squads or anything like that. Youíre pretty much an extension of the team and you prepare as such.
Q. What have you taken from your time working alongside Rodgers and backup Seneca Wallace?
A. I think just their characteristics is the biggest thing that you take, and their preparation. Truthfully, I think Aaronís mechanics are pretty close to flawless, and so you can take a lot from just watching him from a fundamentals standpoint.
But I think itís more in their preparation, the detail that they study with and just the way they prepare each week. Theyíre still coachable and ask some of the same questions because they want to hammer those details out so when Sunday comes theyíve got the game plan down pat and thereís no gray area. So I think itís more of that mindset is what you pick up most of all.
Q. In your brief time working with Rodgers, what has stood out most about him?
A. Well, every day in practice, he makes about five throws that you almost chuckle, because heís probably the only guy on the planet Earth that can make some of the throws that he makes.
But I think the thing thatís really popped out to me in the month Iíve been here is just how he carries himself on the practice field, on game day and even off the field. Heís just a very observant and aware individual, and just an awesome leader ó super-aware, gets everyone involved. And yet, he doesnít have all the answers. Heís the first one to ask questions to guys and gets them involved in that way.
Q. What is your happiest memory of your time at Fremd?
A. You know, I think thereís just something special about high school in that those were the guys that you grew up with, those were the guys you went to grade school with, middle school with, played youth sports with. You truly know each other from their family life to who they were as a kid, and I think thatís what special about it. Youíre working toward a goal in high school that you had worked for with the same kids since you were five, 10 years old.
Q. Do you still keep in touch with some of your old friends from home?
A. Absolutely. Thereís a core group of guys that I always see when Iím home, and itís something you look forward to along with seeing your family is seeing your close friends.
Q. When you are done playing, what do you see yourself doing?
A. I see myself getting into coaching. ... I know I just love the game, and I want to say involved in it in some aspect.
ü Mike Wilkening has covered the NFL for more than a decade. You can read his work at Pro Football Talk, The Linemakers at Sporting News and NBC New York, among other publications. He can be followed on Twitter @mikewilkening. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.