With Wisconsin having graduated five tight ends in the last two seasons, depth and/or experience are a small issue heading into the 2015 season. However, one player who always could be counted on to make a big catch in the red zone or third down a season ago was Troy Fumagalli. With Sam Arneson graduated, Fumagalli will need to take on a bigger role within the offense and become another NFL-type product.
Strengths: Fumagalli played slot receiver in high school which inherited him with terrific hands. He has the ability to catch basically everything that comes his way whether it is a throw on the mark or thrown poorly, as shown last year. His 14 catches were good for fifth on the team and, as stated, seem to come in critical junctures of the game. Fumagalli also has a solid frame that gives him the ability to barrel past opposing defenders.
Weaknesses: Senior tight end Austin Traylor – likely the other starter for the Badgers – is more known for his blocking while Fumagalli is labeled for his pass catching. That will need to change this season with the Badgers needing to rely on both players to be proficient in both areas to allow Wisconsin more options out of two tight end sets.
Why he is #17: The tight end position is crucial to Wisconsin and will be even more so under head coach Paul Chryst’s offense. With NFL products at the tight end position, Fumagalli will have big shoes to fill and will need to be a constant offensive presence to take pressure off of senior receiver Alex Erickson. We easily could have put Traylor at this spot, especially after he turned some heads with his catching ability in the spring, but Fumagalli appears to have a higher ceiling in terms of overall impact.
Overall: Needing to solidify himself as a consistent receiving presence as well as a blocking tight end, Fumagalli is looked at as someone who will need to be a leading receiver on the team. He has plenty to work on, but his success will be key to the offense operating on all cylinders. Having all the tools to become the next great tight end at Wisconsin, Fumagalli will need to be able to perform on a consistent level to help open up lanes for the running game and give the passing game other options besides Erickson.