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2014 Badgers Spring Football Preview: Tight Ends

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Another day, another look in to the Badgers 2014 Spring football camp. We previewed the defensive line last time out, and while all three starters are gone our next position group is equally barren entering this spring. 

Up next is a look at the tight end position, a group that was vitally important to Wisconsin's offensive success last year.

There are a lot of questions surrounding this group, especially with three members of this group all gone off to the NFL draft or graduation. So, let's get in to how this group will shape up this spring. 

Lost But Not Forgotten: Jacob Pedersen, Brian Wozniack, and Brock DiCiccio

Starter(s) Still Here: None 

New Faces For the Spring: Troy Fumagalli, T.J. Watt

Both Fumagalli and Watt were around this past fall, but this will be their first spring to show themselves to the coaches and to the general public at the annual spring game. 

Battle to Be Had: Starting Tight End

When you have a grad total of six receptions for 57 yards and two touchdowns returning at tight end at a school like Wisconsin, you know there is a serious hole to be filled. That's especially the case when 46 receptions, 600 yards and seven touchdowns are gone from the position group. 

Oh, and that six receptions for 57 yards and two touchdowns comes from only one player—Sam Arneson. He comes in to camp with easily the most game experience, recording 10 receptions for 76 yards and four touchdowns in his three years at Wisconsin. It would seem that Arneson has the inside track to start at one of the tight end positions given his experience and production in limited time behind Pedersen as the pass-catching tight end.

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Behind Arneson are a group of unknowns to the general public, and unproven college players in juniors Austin Maly and Austin Traylor, as well as redshirt freshmen T.J. Watt and Troy Fumagalli. Those four will be vying for spots this spring, and according to early reports Fumagalli and Maly have begun to stand out as impressive options as well. 

This group's importance can't be understated, considering the need for any sort of pass-catching options at wide receiver. Having a good option or two at tight end can really help ease that transition, but tight end is also going through its own major transition on the Badgers roster. 

What they have this spring is what they'll have this fall as well, as no tight ends were added in the 2014 class. 

Name to Watch: Troy Fumagalli

The 6-5, 233-pound redshirt freshman was an interesting addition to the Badgers' 2013 recruiting class, rated as a No. 75 tight end in the country last year. Yet, early reports have him making some good plays in the pass game, and considering the need for any pass-catching options that has to be a good thing. Also, he has the size to really become a matchup nightmare against opposing defenses. He's too tall for safeties to cover well and he may possess too much speed for outside linebackers.

Keeping an eye on his improvement and production this spring would be wise. Don't be surprised to see him play a major role in the pass game as the season goes on. 

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com

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