Whether it’s a coincidence or not, the Chargers have drafted more players out of the Big 10 than any other conference in recent years.
They’ve also selected a Wisconsin Badger in two of the last three drafts, establishing a potent ground attack with RB Melvin Gordon and FB Derek Watt.
Thus, you can understand why Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli thinks LA may be his landing spot in the 2018 NFL Draft…and that would be just fine by him.
After all, he’d reunite with former teammates on an ascending Chargers squad, picking up where he left off with Gordon and Watt. He’d look to become the third player from the program to transition from Wisconsin’s pro-style offense to the Bolts’ offensive scheme.
“That would be really cool,” Fumagalli said about possibly joining the Chargers. “That season where I got to block for Melvin and play with Derek (was awesome). It’s just a re-occurring theme like so many good guys in Wisconsin, so many good guys who love football and (are) cool to be around. It’s cool (to have) two guys in the locker room no matter where you go who have that same mentality as you.”
It doesn’t take much to see that Fumagalli is cut from the same cloth as Gordon and Watt.
A hard-nosed tight end who is just as effective as a road grader in the run game as he is a dangerous weapon as a receiver, Fumagalli likens himself to the “badasses” he grew up trying to emulate.
“I love Jason Witten,” he said. “I love Heath Miller. Chris Cooley is here, he’s with us. Kind of those old school tight ends that can do it all, that are kind of badasses (are like me). Those are the kinds of guys they are…I think one of the things I do well is blocking, so I’m going to try to showcase that as best I can. No matter what it is, no matter what, I’m going to just try to showcase what I do best.”
Gordon and Watt can attest to how Fumagalli embraces the dirty work in the trenches as Wisconsin is known for it’s smash mouth philosophy of pounding the rock. However, the tight end is also a dangerous pass catcher, hauling in 93 passes for 1,126 yards and six touchdowns over the past two seasons.
What makes his story particularly remarkable is that he’s thrived despite missing a finger on his left hand. Fumagalli was born with amniotic band syndrome, when is caused when fibrous amniotic bands wrap around fetal parts and cut off circulation to limbs or digits while in the womb. As a result, he had his left index finger amputated only one day after he was born.
No one should doubt Fumagalli’s ability at this point, but he understands all 32 teams have questions about his finger.
Thus, he looks forward to proving it won’t be a factor at the next level.
“I know it’s part of the process,” he said. “They invest a lot of money in people so they need to know everything, so it doesn’t bother me….(I want to) just showcase everything I do well. At Wisconsin under coach (Paul) Chryst, I have a wide variety of football knowledge. I learned a ton under him, and so in the interviews I like to show that (And) show that I love the game. That I’m a complete tight end. I’ve been asked over the years to run block, pass block and check. Just showcase my abilities the best I can.”