In an interesting turn of events, the Wisconsin Badgers did not list either Clay Clundiff or Jack Eschenbach, the top tight ends from a season ago, on their roster ahead of the upcoming season.
Cundiff had missed the entire spring recovering from a season-ending leg injury that he suffered during the team’s loss to Ohio State in Week 4.
Eschenbach returned for a sixth season and saw extensive action in the spring, although he acknowledged during spring ball that he wasn't firm on his decision prior to coming back under the new regime.
Last season, Cundiff had nine catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns prior to the injury that cost him his season, while Eschenbach caught 14 passes for 120 yards on the year.
The former has dealt with serious injuries in the past, recovering from season-ending lower-body injuries for two straight seasons, limiting his playing time as a Badger, despite showcasing some flash early on.
With Cundiff and Eschenbach no longer on the roster, the Badgers head into fall camp carrying seven tight ends: Hayden Rucci (fifth-year senior), Cam Large (redshirt senior), Riley Nowakowski (redshirt junior), Jack Pugh (redshirt sophomore), J.T. Seagraves (redshirt freshman), Tucker Ashcraft (true freshman) and Angel Toombs (true freshman walk-on).
Rucci and Pugh figure to begin the season as the top two tight ends, as the former was atop the depth chart at times last year due to his blocking capabilities before suffering an injury, while the latter saw some first-team reps during spring ball, leading to a strong review from offensive coordinator Phil Longo.
Earlier this week, Longo shared that Nowakowski proved to be one of the more consistent players during spring ball, which was the reason behind him earning some reps with the top offense.
But, with Cundiff and Eschenbach off the roster, it’s a newer-look Badgers team at tight end that will get its first experience together during fall camp, which starts on Tuesday.