Prior to the 2017, season, Wisconsin Badgers tight end Troy Fumagalli was named to the preseason Mackey Award watch list and was named a preseason All-American by Athlon, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated. He also received first-team All-Big Ten preseason honors from Athlon.
The 6’6, 248-pound senior is an imposing figure on the football field and his combination of speed and size makes him a match-up nightmare for defenses.
However, Fumagalli’s career at Wisconsin has been one that has seen its ups and downs.
Fumagalli made his first major contribution to the Wisconsin offense during his sophomore season, following a freshman season when he compiled 14 receptions for 187 yards while playing behind Sam Arneson.
His first big game in cardinal and white came in a game played at Nebraska. The sophomore hauled in six passes for 60 yards and the opening score of the game.
Fumagalli eclipsed the 50-yard mark just two more times that season and did not find the end zone a second time. He was also plagued by injury, playing limited snaps in some games and missing others.
As a junior, Fumagalli and the Badgers opened the 2016 season against No. 5 LSU, at Lambeau Field and the tight end put up a performance worthy of the setting: seven passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. This was the first time Fumagalli put up 100 yards in a game, and it was the first time since 2010 that a Badger tight end reached that mark. Lance Kendricks was the last Badger to do so when he picked up 103 yards against Austin Peay.
The rest of Fumagalli’s junior campaign didn’t quite live up to the potential that most saw when the tight end kicked off the season.
Fumagalli only eclipsed 50 yards two more times during the regular season—once in a home loss to Ohio State, when he tied a career-high with seven receptions and 84 yards. The other came at Purdue, when he amassed 52 yards. He also only found the end zone once during the season.
He then returned to form on a national stage in the Cotton Bowl, earning Offensive MVP honors in Wisconsin’s 24–16 victory. Fumagalli caught six passes for 83 yards and one touchdown, but none was bigger than his final reception, which helped Wisconsin secure the victory and run out the clock.
Fumagalli picked up where he left off in the 2017 season opener, recording a career-high 105 yards on five receptions and a touchdown vs. Utah State. He then established a career-high eight receptions this past weekend, in Wisconsin’s win over Florida Atlantic. He also racked up 92 yards and a touchdown.
After two games, the senior is living up to the hype that was placed upon him prior to the season and will hopefully avoid the mid-season lull he has fallen into in previous seasons. However, in the past, Wisconsin was trying to find some consistency in its offense, having a hard time establishing the run following injuries to Corey Clement in 2015 and a two-quarterback system in 2016.
Some consistency at quarterback in 2017 and a trio of capable backs should help Fumagalli continue to excel and keep up the pace he is on to finish with over 1,000 yards. Fumagalli would be the first Badger to do so since 2013, when Jared Abbrederis racked up 1,081 yards.