Tight end Troy Fumagalli put together a stellar college career at Wisconsin.
Fumagalli played in 52 games with 32 starts. He ranks seventh in school history with 135 receptions and is 13th all time with 1,627 receiving yards while adding 7 touchdown catches.
As a senior during the 2017 season, Fumagalli earned Big Ten Tight End of the Year honors and first-team All-Big Ten status from the coaches. He was a John Mackey Award finalist for nation’s best tight end and a Burlsworth Trophy finalist for best player to begin his career as a walk-on. Fumagalli also was a second-team All-America selection from the America Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America and Walter Camp.
Fumagalli was selected by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round with the No. 156 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft on Saturday. Here is his path to the draft:
Fumagalli was rated as a 3-star prospect and the No. 57 tight end in the 2013 class, according to the 247Sports composite. He held scholarship offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Bucknell, Eastern Michigan, Fordham, Northern Illinois, Toledo, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan.
Fumagalli verbally committed to Wisconsin on Sept. 12, 2012, when Bret Bielema was the coach. But the Badgers, who were full on tight end scholarships, offered Fumagalli a gray-shirt opportunity. That meant he would arrive on campus after the semester as a nonscholarship player and eventually earn a scholarship.
Dave Doeren then took over as coach at North Carolina State and offered Fumagalli a full-ride scholarship. Doeren had recruited Fumagalli when he was at Northern Illinois before taking the N.C. State job. Fumagalli made an official visit to N.C. State on Jan. 11, 2013.
According to an NFL.com story, Doeren gave Fumagalli seven days to decide whether he would accept the scholarship before he pursued other prospects. Fumagalli’s father, Paul, said Troy had recently switched cell phones and was unable to get in touch with him. Six days in, Doeren pulled the scholarship offer.
Fumagalli already had told Wisconsin coaches he was going to N.C. State. But when the offer fell through, Fumagalli’s high school coach at Waubonsie Valley (Ill.), Paul Murphy, called new Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen to ask if the gray shirt was still available. Andersen said yes.
“I immediately called Troy and said, ‘Get your butt up to Wisconsin and have a hell of a career,’ ” Murphy told NFL.com.
Fumagalli’s breakout season took place in 2016 when he started all 14 games and more than doubled his previous career totals. He recorded 47 catches for 580 yards and earned offensive MVP honors at the Cotton Bowl against Western Michigan. In that game, Fumagalli caught 6 passes for 83 yards with a touchdown. He opened that season with 7 catches for 100 yards against LSU.
Fumagalli became a favorite target of quarterback Alex Hornibrook in 2017 and led the team with 46 catches for 547 yards while adding 4 touchdowns. He opened the season with 5 catches for a career-high 105 yards in a victory against Utah State. In Week 2, he added a career-high 8 receptions for 92 yards with a touchdown against Florida Atlantic and carried that success forward throughout the season.