"In our current situation (with scholarships), it really gives us some flexibility," Rudolph said.
DeCicco, a native of Jefferson Hills, Pa., was heavily recruited by Wisconsin during the 2008 cycle before eventually committing to Pittsburgh. He played in 13 games, starting three last season for Pitt, and caught two passes for the Panthers with both going for touchdowns. DeCicco redshirted in 2009 after being rated as the country's No. 7 tight end by Scout coming out of high school and decided to transfer after he saw his production dwindling in Todd Graham's new offensive system.
DeCicco, who has already enrolled in classes, will have two years remaining after he sits out this season per NCAA rules. More importantly, according to Rudolph, DeCicco won't count against the Badgers' 85-player scholarship limit.
On Sunday, Badger Nation spoke with Rudolph about what DeCicco's addition does for Wisconsin.
Badger Nation: Back in 2008, the staff felt they were pretty close to getting DeCicco's commitment. What do you recall about that initial recruiting process because he was going to visit, canceled and committed to Pitt right after that?
Rudolph: We liked him and really liked his film. He came up during the summer time with his dad and his coach and he really liked it. They felt they would fit in well here as a player and as a teammate. We liked those things a lot, recruiting him hard and obviously his brother was at Pitt and they had strong Pitt ties with his coach having played there. We couldn't get him up on an official, but it's funny how things work and I shared with him that God works in mysterious ways sometimes. He's here, he's in our program and we're very excited about it.
Badger Nation: Had you kept him touch with him from the time he committed to the time he asked for his release?
Rudolph: I believe I probably could have as long as you don't mention anything about coming to play for your school, but I think it would be distracting for the player. Also, we're pretty busy, so you don't have a lot of time to do that. I would never bring a distraction to a player. I wished him success there and I wished he was ultra successful there and that he had a chance to feel great about his decision. The fact that it wasn't and they had some changes there means it was great for us.
Badger Nation: Did he reach out to you guys first or did you hear about him wanting to transfer first?
Rudolph: He put in that he was leaving, asked for his release, asked for a few places to send his release and we were apparently one of the places. After that, I believe his coach called and talked to Bret a little bit.
Badger Nation: How much do you have to refresh yourself with the player because it's been a couple years since you have really talked to him and studied him?
Rudolph: I don't know what I am going to do and there really isn't a need to re-familiarize myself with the situation because he's going to be mandating that he sits a year out. He's going to work on scout team, work in the weight room and have the opportunity to start learning the playbook. Knowing what we're going to be doing will be big for him and get him incorporated into school and the new surroundings. Once spring comes, that will be the great chance to truly start assessing him and seeing where he is at. We definitely want to see him make the strides in the weight room and on the field.
Badger Nation: Lastly, knowing what he did in high school, how well do you think he can incorporate into this offense next year and going forward?
Rudolph: I think the things he did well was he ran and caught the ball well with his nice size. I thought that he played very good on defense. He was a good two-way player. We liked him as a player because he was a good, hard-nosed football player. Those things showed up on the film. As far as working in, he can provide us with a lot of competition, which is great. Competition can always help you and help your position prove. He'll add to that group a lot and help push other guys. We'll get better because of it.