DeCicco Catching On

Taking all the styles of his seven head coaches in stride, senior tight end Brock DeCicco has put himself in position to be a big contributor to Wisconsin's passing offense.

MADISON - It's been well publicized this fall that senior tight end Brock DeCicco has been coached by seven head coaches over four years between two schools. It's also well known that DeCicco left Pittsburgh for Paul Chryst's tight-end-friendly offense at Wisconsin, only to have Chryst head to Pittsburgh after DeCicco sat out the 2011 season because of transfer rules.

What isn't as well known is DeCicco has embraced the last two changes at Wisconsin – from Bret Bielema to Barry Alvarez and from Alvarez to Gary Andersen – and has seen his game develop because of it.

"I've never really had one head coach or one offense for that long of time," said DeCicco. "I am used to and comfortable with it. It's not that big of a deal for me.

"I've been through a bunch of coaches so whenever it's happened, I'm ready to go to the next coach. It's the same process, so might as well make the best of it."

DeCicco is one of three senior tight ends rotating through drills during fall practice; a list that doesn't include junior tight end Sam Arneson. Despite his cohorts having more catches, it could be argued that no tight end had a better start to camp catching the football than DeCicco, who showed his ability to hang on to the football out of a variety of different formations in the offense.

Considering Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig wants to utilize the passing game more than in previous years but doesn't have a lot of trustworthy weapons to call plays for, DeCicco is turning into a viable option.

"It's going pretty good," DeCicco said. "I won't say it's that good because I have a lot of stuff to work on and pick up on some little things, but I've been catching the ball pretty well and I've had some good days blocking."

Blocking was the attribute that earned DeCicco a scholarship last season after transferring from Pittsburgh. While rarely being targeted in the passing game and failing to register a catch or any all-purpose yards, DeCicco played in all 14 games and helped open up the run game.

But always having the goal of being an all-around tight end, DeCicco had the offseason mindset of being a true weapon in the passing game, working on his pass route during offseason 7-on-7 drills with the tight ends and his explosiveness with new strength and conditioning coach Evan Simon.

"After we got into the strength program a couple weeks, I started feeling better with my explosion, and it's really helped me with my routes and coming out of my breaks," said DeCicco. "We haven't done as much heavy lifting but instead focus on speed work and explosion out of our cuts. I think it's helped a lot."

For a group that didn't put up the passing numbers last season, help is needed. Wisconsin finished 111th out of 120 FBS teams in passing offense (averaging 156.9 yards per game), and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis accounted for most it (39 percent of UW's catches and a whopping 65.2 percent of all yards by UW receivers).

While Wisconsin's tight ends have shown they can make an impact next to the tackles, this fall has shown a player like DeCicco can be a matchup problem split out as a wide receiver.

"We're more of an inside-the-hashes group, but we can split out" said DeCicco. "For the most part … we get matched up with inside linebackers and safeties. We can create a mismatch at times and that's when we need to use our explosion to come out of breaks."

Admitting to be less talkative that fellow seniors Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak, DeCicco says he simply wants to let his play do the talking. Through a couple weeks' worth of camp, he already is turning heads.

"The younger guys have been asking about things in the passing game because I've done a pretty good job in one-on-ones," said DeCicco. "I want to make those plays that stand out and the we-can't-take-him-off-the-field-type plays."

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