Spring Thoughts: Tight Ends

Our series of spring football position-by-position analysis continues with a look at the tight end position.

One of the primary concerns for Wisconsin this season is the tight end position. The Badgers have brought in their third tight end coach in three years, Rob Ianello. The task is not an easy one for Ianello, who inherits a group that was very disappointing last season.

Tony Paciotti has taken over the starting tight end position, after starting the last seven games of the year in 2002. Paciotti saw action in all 13 games last season, but has yet to catch a single pass in his career. Paciotti was used more in a blocking capacity, and that's mainly what the Badger coaching staff will ask out of him this season. Without a dynamic pass-catching threat at the tight end position, the Badgers simply need consistent blocking out of their tight ends, and Paciotti has been the most consistent of the bunch.

Bob Docherty has been a bit of a mystery over the last year. Before he left for USC, former tight ends coach Tim Davis said he felt Docherty had the ability to become one of the best tight ends in school history. But after starting the first six games of last year, Docherty missed the second half of the season with an ankle injury. He didn't endear himself to many fans when an article in The Capital Times revealed that Docherty didn't even watch the second half of the Indiana game (he left to watch his friend play in a basketball game instead). He was informed by his mother that the Badgers had lost later that day. Docherty has flip-flopped positions with Paciotti this spring. Docherty sees the field in two tight-end formations and with the second-team offense, but he hasn't done much to try to steal back the starting spot.

Mark Bell and Jason Pociask are both making a push for playing time this spring, and with two tight-end formations a regular staple of the Badger offense, at least one of them will likely see the field regularly next fall. Bell has the edge in experience, having played in 10 games last season. Pociask has worked extremely hard conditioning and has made improvements. Joel Nellis, a 6-4, 243-pound sophomore, will likely remain with the scout team.

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