With Big Ten Media days starting on Monday and fall camp revving up later this week, football season for Wisconsin Badgers fans is finally here.
Earlier on Monday, Wisconsin announced its five captains for the 2017 season: seniors Conor Sheehy, D’Cota Dixon, Troy Fumagalli, and Jack Cichy, and redshirt junior Michael Deiter.
All five earned some form of praise leading up to this season in the form of watch lists. Fumagalli and Cichy are the 16th and 17th former walk-ons since 1990 to be named team captains. In recent years, that list consisted of Dare Ogunbowale in 2016 and Joel Stave, Alex Erickson, and Joe Schobert in 2015.
Sheehy is entering his fourth year in the program (40 games played with 19 starts) and has been a consistent performer on the defensive line. A Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award watch list candidate, he has played both at end and nose guard during his time in Madison.
Dixon has faced adversity on and off the field, and has become a critical playmaker in the secondary. Also on the Nagurski Trophy watch list, he earned the Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award. The strong safety has played in 30 games (14 starts) in his UW career, with 60 tackles (T-4th) and four interceptions (T-2nd) last season.
One of two former walk-ons among this year’s captains, Fumagalli was named a preseason first-team All-American by Athlon Sports and could be poised for a huge 2017 season. He led the team in receptions a year ago (47), including having big games against LSU and Western Michigan to bookend his 2016 campaign. He’s also on the John Mackey Award watch list.
The other former walk-on who could have an explosive season, Cichy is among four starting-caliber inside linebackers for Wisconsin’s defense. Also named to the Bednarik and Nagurski watch lists, “Three-Sack-Jack” also earned Lott IMPACT Trophy watch list honors. Despite missing half of UW’s games last season, he tied for fourth in tackles (60) and tied for third tackles for loss (seven).
Deiter is a versatile offensive lineman who has started since his redshirt freshman season and is an anchor for a potentially solid unit in 2017. Named to both the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy watch lists, it should bear watching where he winds up playing on the line this year. He could play center or bump out to left guard (or left tackle, as he experimented with in the spring).