The future at the tight end position continues to look bright at the University of Wisconsin.
That’s not to say that it looked bleak heading into next season, as Wisconsin only lost tight end Austin Traylor to graduation, but it’s hard not to get excited about what the offensive coaches have to work with next season and beyond.
Eric Steffes will be the only senior amongst the tight ends, and after signing two tight ends (Kyle Penniston and David Edwards) in the 2015 recruiting cycle, the Badgers didn’t have a great need at the position in 2016. However, UW couldn’t resist recruiting a talented prospect with the upside that Jake Hescock brings to the table.
UW was looking to sign only one tight end in 2016 and the intangibles Hescock has will only continue to bolster the depth at the position. Thanks to his 6-7 frame, Hescock should be able to serve multiple purposes for Wisconsin on offense, something head coach Paul Chryst expects out of his tight ends.
“Even at its most basic level, he’s a big guy and then he moved really well,” tight end Mickey Turner said of his initial evaluation of Hescock. “So, okay, he’s big and he can run, check, check. But when you watch his tape, you see more of the athleticism come on defense. He’s rushing the passer, he picked the ball off right in stride as he’s coming around the edge, so a lot of those things told me he has ball skills. He has hand-eye coordination. As long as you can run and hit like he had before, he’ll be all right.”
Coming from a run heavy offense at Salisbury School, Hescock wasn’t targeted often, registering 23 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns last season, but was still awarded first team All-New England, lineman of the year and first-team all-state.
Whether playing tight end or defensive end, Hescock showed good burst getting off the line of scrimmage. With him playing defensive end, he is used to being physical at the point of attack. As he adds more weight to his frame, it will only help him improve when it comes to run blocking and maintaining good leverage.
In terms of receiving, Hescock displays good strong hands and consistently catches the football away from his body. He also does a good job of route running and is able to find the open space in the defense. With Hescock’s ability to read defenses and his size, he’ll be a weapon for Wisconsin in third-down situations and in the red zone.
Although Wisconsin told Hescock he’d be the only tight end they would sign in the class, they did flirt with the idea of adding a second option. Wisconsin aggressively recruited Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge’s Malik Harrison and were the favorite to land him. That changed once Harrison picked up the local offer from Ohio State, as the Buckeyes landed his commitment on signing day. UW also pursued New Canaan (CT) three-star Jacob Morgenstern. He visited in June but later ended up committing to Duke.
Hescock will likely redshirt and, if he can add good weight to his frame, he could make an impact by his second or third year on campus.
Signing Day Grade: A