Starter returning – Tony Paciotti, 6-4, 264, Sr. (19 career starts, 35 games, 1 reception, 18 yards)
More key returnees – Jason Pociask, 6-3, 249, Jr. (5-13-1-5); Owen Daniels, 6-3, 222, Jr. (0-13-15-193)
Also in the mix – Joel Nellis, 6-4, 246, Jr.; Kurt Ware, 6-4, 249, R-Fr.
Newcomers – Dave Peck, 6-5, 225, Fr.
Departures - Mark Bell.
Top marks in 2003 – Daniels – 15 catches, 193 yards, 2 touchdowns.
Reasons to be excited – After a year getting accustomed to a pass-catching role, converted quarterback Owen Daniels could become a consistent contributor on Saturdays this fall. He showed hints of his potential with a three-catch, 41-yard performance in last season's opener against West Virginia and in his three-reception, 70-yard, two-touchdown in a loss to Minnesota. Daniels has the athleticism to split the seam and has the best hands on the team. Paciotti is a very good blocker. Pociask is an above average blocker and with good enough hands to make plays. All three are experienced players.
Cause for trepidation – Paciotti is essentially an extra lineman. When Wisconsin passes with him in the lineup, opposing defenses do not need to respect his pass-catching abilities. In addition, he missed all of spring workouts, which certainly cannot help his development. Daniels is still learning the finer points of blocking. He played primarily in a two-point stance last season, whether as a receiver or as a standing tight end. This season, though, he is being asked to play as a conventional tight end.
Camp questions – Can Daniels develop into a true tight end with sufficient blocking ability? If so, Wisconsin's offense will be benefit immensely. If not, teams will quickly learn that Daniels is the pass-catching tight end and will adjust accordingly.
Who starts? All three will certainly play, but how substantial their individual roles will be remains to be seen.
Player on the rise – Daniels had a fantastic spring and shows plenty of promise. His route-running is near flawless and his combination of athleticism and strength should give opposing linebackers and safeties fits.
Player on the spot – Daniels. Wisconsin's coaching staff has huge expectations for him. If he can develop into a decent blocker, the Badgers will be able to better disguise their offensive packages, opening up a wealth of opportunities.
Forecast – Daniels will be one of quarterback John Stocco's favorite targets; a go-to guy in some situations. Wisconsin has not had a pass-catching threat at tight end since Mark Anelli earned All-Big Ten acclaim with his 35 catches for 357 yards three years ago. Daniels may match that production this year. He will still need some work as a blocker, though. Paciotti and Pociask will continue to be serviceable role players.
BadgerNation.com projected depth chart
Fall Camp Guide: tight ends
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