Fall Camp Spotlight: Tight Ends

Tight end Bob Docherty decided to leave the Wisconsin football team Thursday evening. Badger Nation takes a look at how Docherty's departure affects the tight end position.

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Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez announced Friday morning that junior tight end Bob Docherty had decided to leave the football team.


"I didn't talk to him," Alvarez said. "He talked to (tight ends coach) Rob Ianello and said he was going to quit the football team. He left last night."


"As far as Bob Docherty is concerned, I wish him all the best of luck," Ianello said. "I told him that we would do anything to help him. I will not comment on my conversation with him. I won't comment on the situation any further."


Docherty told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Friday that the decision had been "building for a while."


"I just didn't feel right being there," Docherty said. "I kind of lost my drive. It was nothing against any individual or the coaching staff. It just didn't feel like a comfortable place where I could spend the next two years."


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported that Docherty may decide to transfer.


(Read the complete Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story by clicking here)


Docherty's decision to leave the team Thursday came as a surprise.


"A couple of times he mentioned it but none of us ever thought he was serious," tight end Tony Paciotti said. "I mean, he didn't even think he was serious. He was just joking around a couple of times. I never—it was a complete shock to me.


"I went into the locker room today and everyone was like, ‘dude, what happened to your boy?'  I had no idea. I didn't find out until I came out for practice this morning."


"I didn't think he was doing anything any different then he had been," Alvarez said. "Sometimes we don't know all of the issues that these young guys are going through. Like I said, I'm not going to speculate. I certainly didn't see any signs that he was thinking of it and Rob said he was surprised. I was surprised when I heard it."


Docherty, who caught 10 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown last season, entered fall camp No. 2 on the depth chart behind Paciotti. This fall, it appeared that sophomore Jason Pociask would also push Docherty for playing time and may have already assumed the No. 2 spot. After Docherty's departure, junior Mark Bell will step into the rotation at tight end. Bell owns the only career reception among the trio, a three-yard touchdown pass from Brooks Bollinger that came against Michigan State last season.


"At the tight end position we are working really hard," said Paciotti, who has nine career starts. "We are trying to pick it a step up from where we were at last year and hopefully we will be more involved in the passing game."


Tight end has been brandished about as a point of concern on a much-praised offense. Paciotti, Pociask and Bell have looked solid this fall, but with so little cumulative experience, and production in the passing game, tight end will remain a question mark entering the season.


Still, there is reason for optimism.


"We have had a good camp," Ianello said. "Guys have done terrific. They have improved and they have understood the things they need to improve on. Everybody has certain strengths on the tight end group. What we are trying to do as a coaching staff is develop our offense and develop our team and just find out who has which strengths and put them in the best situation to help the team.


"Tony has been really good at being a point of attack blocker. Really a come-off-the-ball guy who can handle a bigger inside defensive player.


"Jason has developed into our movement tight end. He can be a trapper and puller and pass receiver, though he will also be somebody who is going to have to handle some of the heavier pass techniques.


"Mark Bell has had a good camp. He has really shown some things to me. I think we can find a role for all of them."


As Ianello stated, Paciotti is a highly talented blocker. He has also demonstrated solid hands on short and intermediate pass patterns.


Paciotti has been one of the surprises of camp, constantly displaying an ability to get open and make plays all over the field. He is also an adequate blocker.


With or without Docherty, the tight end position is in a pretty similar place. There is talent, but it remains to be seen how it will be put into use on the field and how productive the individual players will be when the opportunities present themselves.


"‘Doch' had a lot of personality," Paciotti said. "He brought a lot to the game. I really enjoyed playing with him. He is still a very good friend of mine. Yeah, we are going miss Docherty. He was a good athlete, he had a lot of potential. But most importantly he was a good person on and off the field. He picked up the spirit of the tight end group. I wish him the best with whatever he has to do. We are just going to keep playing. We have football games to play. We have to keep pushing. We have got to be the best we can be."

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