5. Troy Fumagalli, TE
If there is a position group thatâ€™s happier about Paul Chryst coming back home than the tight end group, please show me. Last time around names like Travis Beckum, Lance Kendricks and Owen Daniels were some of the best receiving options the Badgers had.
With Sam Arneson likely off to an NFL try out or the draft, that leaves one big receiving option on the current roster and thatâ€™s Troy Fumagalli. As last season went on, the sophomore tight end began to showcase a lot of pass catching ability. He finished the season with 12 receptions for 169 yards and averaged over 14 yards per reception.
Thatâ€™s exactly the kind of production Chryst needs out of a pass-catching tight end. The mix of a full year of seasoning on the field and the way Chryst likes to use the tight end in his offense has Fumagalli in a great position to be big weapon in the 2015 offense.
4. Kyle Penniston, TE
This thinking is along the same lines as for Fumagalli, but Penniston is a superior athlete to Fumagalli and he is perhaps the best high school talent the Badgers have ever pulled in at the tight end position. Heâ€™ll come in and get a great opportunity to showcase his abilities with a roster full of unknowns beyond Fumagalli.
One look at Pennistonâ€™s recruiting tape and Chryst has to be as enamored with the same things we all see.
3. Corey Clement, RB
Clement was going to be the next man up no matter who the head coach was, but there canâ€™t be anyone happier to see this offense happen than Clement. Thatâ€™s because heâ€™s likely to see the ball 250-300 times himself next season, and that means a lot of time to shine for the Badgers lone experienced running back in 2015.
He has 1,391 yards, 16 touchdowns and averages 7.0 yards per rush on just 199 carries through his first two seasons at UW. Given those numbers and the history of running backs under Paul Chryst, you can bet heâ€™s going to see plenty of carries this next season.
One jus needed to look at the smile on Clements face as Chryst was introduced yesterday for all the proof you need of just what this move means to him.
CC shows a huge smile when reminded how well Chryst's offense was when he was the OC here. With Melvin leaving, CC is the man
— MadTown Badgers (@MTBadgers) December 18, 2014
2. Joel Stave, QB
Thereâ€™s little doubt that Wisconsinâ€™s 2014 season was nothing but disappointing from the quarterback position. Sure, as time went on Stave got better and even looked competent at times, but it became painfully obvious in the Big Ten championship game he wasnâ€™t ready to be the guy that could put the team on his back and win on his own.
Stave has completed just 53.6 percent of his passes this season, while throwing for 1,229 yards and eight touchdowns to seven interceptions.
Those are numbers that simply wonâ€™t cut it for Chryst and his expectations for offense. However, the good news is that Chryst has worked wonders with all types of quarterbacks, but especially with those who have good arms and limited athletic ability.
Could it be that Stave enters his senior season as the one UW turns to, and not just by default?
1. Bart Houston, QB
If ever there was a cautionary tale on why one shouldnâ€™t read too much in to high school hype it would be Houston. He came to Wisconsin as an Elite 11 finalist and from California high school powerhouse De La Salle, yet he hasnâ€™t had the smoothest of transitions to the college game.
No doubt injury has played a small role in this whole scenario, as he sat out the 2012 season recovering from shoulder surgery and has been stuck down the depth chart ever since.
Last season some thought Houston was the answer to what the Badgers needed at quarterback, but he didnâ€™t even come close to winning the battle at quarterback in the fall. It all happened under the watch of Andy Ludwig, who is gone as UWâ€™s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.
Having a new lease on life, a new coaching perspective and a quarterback situation that is as open as it could be may end up being exactly what the doctor (pun intended) ordered for Houston. The potential is all there, and anyone seeing him throw the football can see heâ€™s got a cannon for an arm, itâ€™s going to be all about putting it together though.
Itâ€™s now or never for Houston, as he enters his junior season and needing to take control of the job. Look for Chrystâ€™s perspective to really help him develop quickly.