Badgers tight end Ferguson has impressive collegiate debut

We’re back for another year of tracking how the younger players on the Wisconsin Badgers are faring. By young, we’re talking anyone in their first two years of being at the school, i.e. freshmen and “true” sophomores.

For a little recent historical perspective, Paul Chryst has been fairly consistent with how he’s played freshmen. In 2015, Chryst’s first year as head coach, only four “true” freshmen saw the field compared to 17 redshirts. In 2016 it was six and 14 and last year five and 17.

More Badgers coverage

In 2014, Gary Andersen’s final season at Wisconsin, nine “true” freshmen played and 11 redshirt freshmen.

After one week in 2018, five “true” freshmen played for the Badgers as well as 11 redshirt freshmen. Those numbers, of course, could well increase in the coming weeks, especially for the first-year players as a new rule begins this season in which players can play up to four games and still redshirt.

One player who stood out, and has already used his redshirt, against Western Kentucky in Wisconsin’s 34-3 opening victory was tight end Jake Ferguson.

With Zander Neuville sidelined, not to mention two wide receivers suspended, Ferguson was the only tight end targeted (even with Kyle Penniston playing) in the game and he finished third on UW in targets (5) and tied for second in receptions (4).

But Ferguson also played another role, that of a blocker. On both of Jonathan Taylor‘s touchdown runs Ferguson made a key block downfield, especially on the first one, a 47-yard score, in which he cleared room on the left side for Taylor after crossing the line of scrimmage.

Ferguson was a highly ranked recruit out of high school. It’s only one game, but he’s looking like he could be a pivotal part of Wisconsin’s offense for years to come.

Here’s the complete rundown of the young Badgers after the opening game:

 

“TRUE” FRESHMEN

Travian Blaylock, CB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Donte Burton, CB
Western Kentucky: 1 tackle (solo)

Aaron Cruickshank, WR
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Taj Mustapha, WR
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Bryson Williams, NT
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Have not played
A.J. Abbott, WR; Nate Carter, QB; John Chenal, FB; Boyd Dietzen, DE; Jack Eschenbach, TE; Jaylan Franklin, OLB; Michael Furtney, OL; C.J. Goetz, DE; Mike Gregoire, WR; Isaac Guerendo, WR; Jacob Heyroth, ILB; Andrew Lyons, OL; Isaiah Mullens, DE; Reggie Pearson, S; Mason Platter, OLB; Cormac Sampson, TE; Jack Sanborn, ILB; Brady Schipper, WR; Conor Schlichting, P; Alexander Smith, CB; Marty Strey, OLB; Jack Torchio, S; Nakia Watson, RB; Rachad Wildgoose, CB; Chase Wolf, QB

 

 

REDSHIRT FRESHMEN

Tyler Beach, OL
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Logan Bruss, OL
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Jake Ferguson, TE
Western Kentucky: 4 catches, 43 yards

Izayah Green-May, OLB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Deron Harrell, CB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Matt Hennigsen, DE
Western Kentucky: Started, 4 tackles (1 solo)

Faion Hicks, CB
Western Kentucky: Started, 3 tackles (2 solo), INT

Kayden Lyles, OL
Western Kentucky: Started, 2 tackles (2 solo)

Scott Nelson, S
Western Kentucky: Started, 7 tackles (5 solo), 2 PBU

Josh Seltzner, OL
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Aaron Vopal, OL
Western Kentucky: 1 tackle (solo)

Have not played
Michael Balistreri, DE; Ethan Cesarz, ILB; Jake Collinsworth, FB; Alex Fenton, OL; Cade Green, WR; Hunter Johnson, RB; Collin Larsh, K; Tyler Mais, S; Emmet Perry, WR; Blake Smithback, OL; Danny Vanden Boom, QB; Coy Wanner, TE

Badgers all-time databases

“TRUE” SOPHOMORES

Adam Bay, LS
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Madison Cone, CB
Western Kentucky: Played, did not record a statistic

Jonathan Taylor, RB
Western Kentucky: 18 rush, 145 yards, 2 TD

Have not played
Jack Coan, QB; Danny Davis III, WR

Dave Heller is the author of Ken Williams: A Slugger in Ruth’s Shadow (a Larry Ritter Book Award nominee), Facing Ted Williams – Players From the Golden Age of Baseball Recall the Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived and As Good As It Got: The 1944 St. Louis Browns