Sixth-year senior Zander Neuville is no stranger to injuries. In 2017 the walk-on tight end tore his left ACL. The next year, Neuville tore his right ACL in October. Nearly a month ago, Neuville was granted a rare sixth year of eligibility and eyed the September 21 matchup against Michigan as his potential season-opener.
Wednesday afternoon, Neuville posted the news via Twitter that his season and thus his football career had come to an end.
“Unfortunately, I have sustained another injury, one that means an end to my football career,” Neuville said. “While this is disappointing, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I had this year and throughout my time at Wisconsin.”
— Zander Neuville (@TheNeuv) September 11, 2019
Neuville didn’t specify on the type or severity of the injury, just that it would end his time with the Badgers. Neuville played in 42 games and started 14 of them, compiling 10 catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Despite these contributions, Neuville’s impact resided predominantly within the blocking portion of the tight end role.
The injury tremendously hurts the tight end position, an already wanting group for the Badgers.
Juniors Luke Benzschawel and Gabe Lloyd now represent the only two upperclassmen at the position. Unfortunately, both are currently out with injuries.
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Lloyd suffered a season-ending leg injury and Benzschawel is still rehabbing from an injury that kept him out of the first two games. Redshirt sophomore Coy Wanner suffered an injury in the spring and did not play a snap in either of his eligible seasons.
True freshmen Clay Cundiff and Hayden Rucci have not quite absorbed the blocking schemes and routes that Wisconsin tight ends must master before receiving considerable playing time.
Cundiff managed to grab only a few second half snaps in the rout of Central Michigan.
This left redshirt sophomore Jake Ferguson with more than enough playing time during the victories over South Florida and Central Michigan while his first-team peers sat for portions of the second half of those games.
Ferguson remains the only tight end with enough experience and a marginally healthy body — he tore a ligament in his thumb during camp — to play consistently with Neuville’s return out of the question. Ferguson recorded three catches in each of the Badgers’ first two games combining for 71 yards. He is the only tight end with a reception this season.
The loss of Neuville forces an even greater load on Ferguson. Or, more accurately, a prolonged load on Ferguson as the Badgers struggle to provide replacements for lost talent.
Neuville graduated in the winter of 2018 with a biology degree and announced that he is starting medical school next fall. If it serves as any consolation, it appears that his time off the field was well spent.