The Wisconsin Badgers had a disappointing first season in Luke Fickell’s first year as head coach, finishing the regular season with a 7-5 record and were 5-4 in conference games, 3rd in the Big 10 West.
Their offense struggled, averaging 370.8 yards per game and 22.8 points, ranked 102nd out of 133 schools in points per game this season.
Their starting tight end revealed his plans for the 2024 season.
Wisconsin Badgers’ starting tight end declared for the draft on Twitter.
Hayden Rucci announced on Twitter that he will play in their ReliaQuest Bowl game on New Year’s Day against LSU and declared for the 2024 NFL Draft, tweeting:
“To Badger Nation,
After earning my degree and having discussions with my family, I have made the decision to pursue my childhood dream of playing in the NFL. I will be finishing this season competing with my teammates in our bowl game.
I have had the best 5 years in Madison making bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime. Thank you to Coach Chryst, Coach Turner, Coach Haering, Coach Letton, and Coach Fickell for all the opportunities that you have provided for me throughout my career,
Madison, Thank you for everything.
Always, on Wisconsin.”
Assessing Hayden Rucci’s tenure with Wisconsin.
Hayden Rucci was primarily known as a blocking tight end in his career. Here’s what went down in each season.
Rucci committed to Wisconsin as a four-star recruit by Rivals for the 2019 season. Rucci redshirted in his true freshman season.
Rucci appeared in six games but didn’t record a reception during his redshirt freshman season.
Rucci appeared in six games but didn’t record a reception during his redshirt sophomore season. He suffered a season-ending Lisfranc sprain in his left foot and missed the last seven games.
Rucci got significant playing time in his redshirt junior season because Jake Ferguson went to the NFL and Clay Cundiff suffered a leg fracture in Week 4. He appeared in ten games, recording six receptions for 75 yards and one receiving touchdown. He missed three games due to a leg injury.
Rucci was the starting tight end in his redshirt senior season, recording ten receptions for 112 yards.
What impact does his decision have on the Badgers offense?
Losing Hayden Rucci to the draft negatively impacts the Wisconsin Badgers because they are losing one of their leaders in the locker room.
Another reason why Rucci’s declaration for the draft negatively impacts the team is that Rucci was the most experienced player in his position. The team will have to rely on inexperienced and young players next season.
Finally, losing Rucci to the draft negatively impacts the team is that Rucci is their best blocking tight end. Blocking is a very difficult skill to master, and it takes time to develop into a great blocker.
Who will Wisconsin have to count on next year?
Wisconsin will have to count on young/inexperienced players next season. They include former fullback Riley Nowakowski, freshman Tucker Ashcraft, transfer Jackson McGohan, and 2024 recruits Rob Booker and Grant Stec for the 2024 season.