By Wade Flavion
MADISON- I have only good news for Badgers fans when it comes to fullbacks and tight ends next season. The Lowman Award-winning duo of John Chenal and Mason Stokke will be returning along with the talented Luke Benzshawel will be returning from a broken leg that occurred during fall camp.
This makes my job really easy at these position groups as the starter, and 2nd string guys are solidified going into next season. Chenal and Stokke will continue to split snaps next season at fullback in an unstoppable duo that led Jonathon Taylor to a phenomenal season last year, as well as made big plays out of the backfield. Quan Easterling will remain on the roster as the 3rd string full back behind these two that both have a promising future at the next level.
The tight ends will be led by the outstanding Jake Ferguson, who has proved himself to be a great passing threat for Jack Coan in the last two seasons. The return of Luke Benzschawel will finally give the Badgers experienced depth behind Ferguson. Wisconsin often uses two tight ends on the field, and last year was forced to go to special teamer Gabe Lloyd, as well as Cormac Sampson a converted tackle. This season the duo of Benzschawel and Ferguson should make up for an inexperienced receiver group going into this season. Ferguson had nearly 12.3 yards per catch last season and was crucial for Wisconsin in the play-action game. He did seem to take a step back from the 2018 season, but this may have been an effect of the talented receiver group including Quintez Cephus of last season. I expect that his numbers will rebound going into the 2020 season. Beyond the starting tight ends, I expect Gabe Lloyd, Jack Eschenbach, and Hayden Rucci to step up to be the next guys and be contributors this season.
The depth below Ferguson and Benzschawel is a bit concerning for Wisconsin, but having two great tight ends, as well as fullbacks is something special. The Badgers could be very good next season because of this depth, and they could make converting to college a lot easier for incoming running back Jalen Berger.
Below I have attached a potential depth chart for next season at these position groups.
|Position||Starters||2nd String||3rd String||4th String|
|Fullback||John Chenal/Mason Stokke||Quan Easterling|
|Tight End||Jake Ferguson/Luke Benzshawel||Hayden Rucci||Jack Eschenbach||Gabe Lloyd|