The University of Wisconsin tight ends continued to produce in the passing game during Thursday’s practice at Camp Randall Stadium.
Troy Fumagalli caught seven passes during team and 7-on-7 drills, the most of any Badgers player, while Kyle Penniston had three and David Edwards made a nice grab deep over the middle. Fumagalli and Penniston each scored a touchdown during 7-on-7.
Quarterbacks Bart Houston and Alex Hornibrook have targeted the position group often this spring. Redshirt freshmen like Penniston and Edwards have looked game ready at times, although offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph believes they still need to find more consistency over the next five months.
“Kyle’s shown the ability to make some plays. He shows toughness,” Rudolph said. "David’s made some of the best big-angle catches. He’s a giant target going across the field. It’s just consistency more than anything. But you do see out of them that, when they can be a their best, they can be pretty good."
UW coach Paul Chryst, who served as the Badgers’ offensive coordinator from 2006-11, has a reputation for producing successful tight ends. The hope for UW is that a better and more cohesive offensive line this season could lead to a more potent passing game, and the tight ends could benefit.
RUSHING IMPRESSES AGAIN
George Rushing had another impressive practice, tying for second on the team with four catches during team drills and burning redshirt freshman cornerback Titus Booker down the sideline for a 64-yard touchdown.
Rushing also ran for another 64-yard touchdown on an end-around.
The performance came two practices after he caught eight passes for 134 yards and a touchdown Saturday during UW’s second scrimmage of the spring.
Earlier in spring practice, wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore described Rushing as “taking two steps forward and two steps back,” and said the junior was still struggling with some of the mental aspects of the game.
Rushing did commit a false-start penalty Thursday and has made a couple other pre-snap mistakes over the past few practices.
Houston and Hornibrook, who continue to split first-team reps, both had nice moments Thursday, although they cooled off after a hot start to practice.
Houston, who completed 11-of-16 passes during team drills and 2-of-6 during 7-on-7 work, threw an early 64-yard touchdown to Robert Wheelwright and found Troy Fumagalli for a 4-yard touchdown during 7-on-7 drills. He finished with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Hornibrook went 16 for 28 in team drills and 2 for 8 during 7-on-7. He lost a fumble that was forced by Conor Sheehy and threw interceptions to T.J. Watt, T.J. Edwards and Arrington Farrar. He also threw a 64-yard touchdown to Peter Roy and a 12-yard touchdown to Penniston during 7-on-7 drills.
Houston, Hornibrook and former Badgers quarterback Jon Budmayr held a friendly throwing competition after practice, which Hornibrook won. He capped his victory by throwing a ball from the 10-yard line and landing it in a trash can set up in the corner of the end zone.
FROM THE INFIRMARY
Wide receiver Reggie Love missed Thursday’s practice with an illness, while the limited tag was lifted from fullback Austin Ramesh (groin) and wide receiver Ricky Finco (head).
Safety D’Cota Dixon (left groin), offensive lineman Ben Hemer (head), running back Mark Saari (right hand), wide receiver Krenwick Sanders (left thigh), offensive lineman Logan Schmidt (left knee) and tight end Eric Steffes (right groin) remained out, while Booker (right thigh) and outside linebacker Jake Whalen (right thigh) remained limited.
Wide receiver Henry Houden was downgraded from limited to out after re-aggregating a right thigh injury Tuesday.