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Wisconsin Football Makes Rare In-Season Roster Addition



Wisconsin Football; Badgers head coach Luke Fickell
Sep 2, 2023; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Luke Fickell looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Buffalo Bulls at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin football program is starving for healthy bodies in the tight end room — so much so that the Badgers coaching staff went out and made an in-season roster addition.

UW’s official team website now lists walk-on tight end and former Northern Illinois & Illinois Fighting Illini player Michael Cerniglia Jr. on the roster. He will wear No. 82 for the Wisconsin Badgers.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound tight end is a Madison native whose parents both played sports at the University of Wisconsin. During his junior and senior seasons at Madison Memorial, Cerniglia Jr. was named an All-City offensive selection. It’s also worth noting that he has no collegiate snaps under his belt.

Wisconsin Football Getting Desperate at Tight End 

On the eve of fall camp, Wisconsin football coaches learned that projected starter Clay Cundiff and veteran Jack Eschenbach would no longer be with the program.

Since then, things have gotten even hairier. Former fullback Riley Nowakowski went down with an injury, Jack Pugh and Cam Large aren’t options at the moment, and walk-on freshman Angel Toombs was recently seen on crutches.

In short, the Badgers football team needs healthy bodies, even if they’re only for practice.

As it stands, Wisconsin football coaches are relying heavily on Hayden Rucci and true freshman Tucker Ashcraft, who were the only Badgers players who logged snaps at the position against Buffalo. Cole Dakovich and JT Seagreaves might be the only other healthy TEs on the gameday roster — which isn’t ideal.

Nowakowski is expected to return at some point, but the fact UW is having to get creative at tight end to make it through practice this early in the season is concerning. Here’s to hoping the Wisconsin football doesn’t suffer any other notable injuries in the coming weeks — because things could get ugly in a hurry if either of the top two options go down.

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Dillon Graff is a Substack newsletter best-selling author, publisher of AllBadgers, and the owner of, your go-to source for in-depth coverage of the Wisconsin Badgers. His work has been featured in top media publications like USA Today's BadgersWire, Athlon Sports, Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, Bucky's 5th Quarter, and FanSided.