Normally, the bright spot on the offensive side of the ball is the running back position. This year, the best position, not just on the offense, but on the team as a whole, may be the tight end position.
The lead guy in this all-star group is preseason All-American senior Troy Fumagalli. He also happens to be the best tight end and best player on the Wisconsin offense.
In 2016, Fumagalli only found the end zone two times, but was the second leading receiver with 580 yards averaging 12.34 yards per catch. Those catches came up in some clutch spots as well.
Against LSU in the opener last season, he had a couple timely receptions that moved the Badgers in field goal range. In the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan, he had a spectacular one-handed diving catch on the opening drive that set the tone as the Badgers went on to win.
With a breakout season in the books, Fumagalli is focused on breaking out of his comfort zone.
“I think for those guys, the more they can do outside of the comfort zone, the better they can help the offense. So they have to get great at one thing at a time and that’s what I tell the young guys, don’t try to get it all right away, just get good at what you’re working on,” tight end coach Mickey Turner said. “But the older guys, the more they stack on their plays the more they’re going to get used come Saturday.”
For Fumagalli, according to Turner, that means motioning into and out of receiver positions, playing on the off side of the ball instead of playing on the ball and becoming as versatile as possible.
“We’re still executing our plays, we are just doing it from both sides now,” Turner said.
Sophomore Kyle Penniston also figures to work in some snaps or work as the second tight end in two tight end sets. Penniston found the end zone twice last season as a freshman.
Penniston will be working to replace Fumagalli next season though, as 2017 is the year of Troy.