Cascone developing into shape

Freshman DT is trimming down near his prep playing weight and honing his skills on the scout team

Dan Cascone has acquired a new nickname since joining the University of Wisconsin football team — Goose.


"That's actually a Coach Palermo name," Cascone said, referring to Badger defensive line coach John Palermo. "You know Siragusa? He said I remind him of Siragusa so they call me Goose."

Tony "The Goose" Siragusa spent 13 years in the NFL as a defensive tackle with the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens. Known for his gregarious personality, Siragusa is currently a Fox Sports sideline reporter for NFL broadcasts, an actor and the namesake for Goose's Gourmet ribs.

So where did Palermo draw the connection from Siragusa to Cascone, a true freshman defensive tackle from Newtown, Conn.? In Cascone's playing style or his demeanor?

"I don't know," Cascone said with a laugh. "I guess both."

It was not that long ago that Cascone's weight was closing in on Siragusa's 340 pounds during his playing days. The 6-foot-2 Cascone played at 295 at Newtown, but he was up to 330 last February. When he checked into his first fall training camp in August he tipped the scales at 320 pounds.

"During the summer I went on creatine and I didn't run as much as I usually do so I put on some water weight and some fat," Cascone said.

The extra weight since his prep playing days did not suit Cascone well.

"I didn't feel as light on my feet," he said, "so my feet were getting tripped up."

Cascone came into camp a little heavier than the 315 pounds Palermo had targeted for him. "Then he said my feet can't handle it so I wanted to drop it, so I'm down to 300 now," Cascone said.

Cascone, who said he already has noticed significant improvement in his footwork, still wants to drop 10 more pounds to get down to 290.

"I've been working in the weight room with our strength and conditioning coach, Coach (Ben) Herbert," Cascone said. "We've been doing agility and footwork stuff after workouts. I'm trying to get my feet better."

Cascone was one of the best players in the state of Connecticut last year, but he is redshirting this season and spending practices developing on the scout team.

"It's a little aggravating at times, watching them from the sidelines, you're not used to it," Cascone said. "It's actually, I think it's a great thing because you really get to get yourself better. As a scout player, we get, like, upwards of 100 snaps a day. Whereas when I was practicing with the first team, we got like 15-20. So you learn more in a week than I learned all camp."

Like many first-year college players, Cascone said the speed of the game is the biggest adjustment.

"The read of the game is so much faster," he said. "I'm still getting adjusted because everything happens so fast that I need to get my reads down and get a little stronger."

While on the scout team, Cascone still has interaction with Palermo during position drill periods in practice. But he is away from his position coach during team work.

"During camp, I worked with him," Cascone said. "He's a great coach. He's one of the best defensive line coaches in the nation, so it's an honor just to be coached by him."

Cascone is one of the three true freshmen defensive linemen on the scout team, along with tackle Jeff Stehle and end Terrance Jamison. True freshman defensive end Matt Shaughnessy is a starter, and true freshman defensive end Travis Beckum, who began his Badger career as a linebacker, is in the depth.

"Through camp, you really see guys bond a lot," Cascone said. "Because you spend all day with everyone. And then you've got your roommate too."

Cascone's roommate is second-team true-freshman left guard Andy Kemp.

"Even though mine is an offensive lineman," Cascone said with a smile, "we still bond pretty good."

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