Wisconsin losing three senior tight ends from a season ago has placed a big importance on the younger ends to take the next step in their development.
One of those players expected to be counted on to contribute is redshirt junior Austin Traylor, who has been able to show through two weeks of fall camp that he’s ready to help fill the void that has been left by Brock DeCicco, Jacob Pedersen and Brian Wozniak.
“I’m excited to be playing, having a chance to get back on the field and I feel like I have a chance to play a lot this year,” Traylor said. “I’m just happy to be contributing this year.”
At 6-3 and 248 pounds, Traylor has played in 16 career games for Wisconsin, but has yet to be utilized in the passing game because of the experience in front of him. Traylor has always shown promise that he could be relied upon, being named Wisconsin’s scout team player of the year in 2012, but with players like Pedersen, Wozniak and senior Sam Arneson ahead of him on the depth chart, it was difficult for Traylor to get on the field unless it was in mop up situations or on special teams.
Slated to be the team’s starting blocking tight end, contributing in both the run and passing game, heading into the season opener against LSU, Traylor has been able to pick up the important nuances of being successful at Wisconsin from his peers, especially from Wozniak.
“(He preached) the importance of technique and how you need to consistently work on hand placement,” Traylor said. “If you don’t do well in that area you will get in trouble and will struggle in winning your battles.”
Outside of Arneson, the rest of the Wisconsin tight ends are a mystery, a combination of youth and inexperience. But with Traylor hauling in two red zone touchdowns during last Sunday’s open scrimmage, it allowed fans a chance to see what he could do.
“I try to never get to high or to low, it was just a scrimmage, but I was pleased with how I played at the same time,” Traylor said. “I know there were things that I need to improve upon. I looked at the film and I also went over it with the coaches. I noticed at times that I still need to work on my details and technique.”
While Arneson and Traylor are expected to be the two starting tight ends, Traylor has been encouraged in what he has seen from his teammates through two weeks of camp from players like sophomore Eric Steffes and redshirt freshmen Troy Fumagalli and T.J. Watt.
“I feel like the past tight ends have brought a lot to the offense but I feel like we as a unit can bring even more this year and contribute a lot to this year’s offense,” Traylor said. “It’s our job to get our roles filled but I feel like a lot of tight ends can contribute this year.”
Playing in a scheme that likes to use at least three tight ends once out of every four offensive plays, Traylor knows that he needs to consistently improve so he can help the offense reach its goals.
“All around I just want to continue to work on everything that is a part of my game so I can be prepared for the season,” Traylor said. “I’m just focusing on getting better every day like I am right now during fall camp. That really is my only goal.”