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The Badgers are earning contributions from an unlikely transfer

The Badgers got an under-the-radar transfer who is already making contributions.

The Wisconsin Badgers cruised to a 38-17 victory over the Buffalo Bulls after facing initial struggles, utilizing their run game and strong defense to eventually get them to their first win of the year, kicking off the Luke Fickell era.

There were several positions that had questions to begin the season, with tight end being amongst them, as the Badgers saw two veterans leave the program prior to fall camp in Clay Cundiff and Jack Eschenbach, while other injuries left them with a lack of depth heading into Week 1.

As a result, the Badgers relied on true freshman Tucker Ashcraft and veteran Hayden Rucci to provide them with ample reps in Week 1, with the former earning two targets for 36 yards.

However, an unsung hero at the position in Week 1 wasn't even a player who entered the game.

In fact, prior to the last few weeks, he wasn't even on the roster.

I’m talking about recent transfer tight end Mike Cerniglia, who was placed on the roster last week, and showed up as a late transfer to the program.

How did he help in the Badgers’ preparation for Week 1? Apparently, a lot, according to head coach Luke Fickell, as Cerniglia provided the team with ample reps in practice to help players prepare for the upcoming opponent.

“He did a great job in week 1,” Fickell said. “We obviously got a little thin on the tight end position, and it’s hard to have some guys to help rep down there when you go exchange units. So he came in, got his accumulation in really quick, and was probably not kind of like slow put into the program.”

It was a quick acclimation for the Wisconsin native, who had played at Illinois, but decided to move back to his home state for a final year.

“He probably [got in] on Monday, Tuesday practice, probably racked up around 50, 60 reps a day,” Fickell said. “So it’s a good thing we’ve got him and good thing he was kind of ready to roll for us.”

With key options like Riley Nowakowski injured for the beginning of the season, the Badgers could continue relying on the veteran Cerniglia, who could even begin earning game reps to take some of the onus off Ashcraft and Rucci.

But, with the Badgers facing key depth issues at the position, it’s good to hear about an instant impact transfer at tight end that could make an impact immediately for the program, even if it's just in a preparation role.