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Waubonsie Valley TE Troy Fumagalli celebrates with teammate Dee Gray after scoring a TD against Naperville Central on Friday in Naperville. Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Having had a couple days to start dealing with the ramifications of the “surprise” of Bret Bielema leaving for Arkansas, Waubonsie Valley tight end Troy Fumagalli took his official visit this past weekend to Wisconsin.
Saying his visit up to Madison, Wis. went well, Fumagalli indicated he’s still committed to the Badgers as of right now.
“It was a great weekend visit. I got a chance to really get to know kids committed to my class and get a better understanding of our coaching staff,” he said of the visit, which ended with a trip to the home of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez.
He indicated his plans to take an official visit to North Carolina State and that official visits to both Minnesota and Boston College may follow.
After leading Northern Illinois to an 11-1 record this season, resulting in an eventual berth in the Orange Bowl opposite Florida State, NIU head coach Dave Doeren departed for the Wolfpack on Dec. 1, less than 24 hours after leading the Huskies to a second Mid-American Conference title in as many years, courtesy of a 44-37 double-overtime victory over Kent State.
“Ever since I was at NIU, me and my dad kind of joked around about just that there’s no way this staff (would be there),” Fumagalli said. “If I were to go there, there’s no way that staff would be there. You know, they’re too good.
“Coach Doeren and (NIU co-defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator) Coach (Ryan Nielsen) are great people. I stay in touch with them the most. They’re great coaches and I think wherever they’re gonna go, they’re gonna bring success with them.”
Alvarez, who hand-picked Bielema to be his successor after stepping down after the 2005 season, will coach the Badgers against sixth-ranked Stanford in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Alvarez, who garnered 118 victories as the Badgers’ head coach from 1990-2005, including earning Rose Bowl victories in 1994, 1999 and 2000, is coming out of retirement just for the 2013 Rose Bowl and is running the search for Bielema’s successor by himself.
“(Alvarez) didn’t necessarily go into depth (about) what he was looking for,” Fumagalli said. “He just stressed a lot about how Wisconsin plays isn’t going to change. They’re looking for (someone) ... whoever’s gonna come in, (Alvarez) is gonna make sure that they’re still looking for the right type of people. People that are gonna work hard, are good character (people).”
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Fumagalli caught 26 passes for 441 yards and five touchdowns for a 10-win Waubonsie Valley team in 2012, earning All-Upstate Eight Valley honors and a place on the Naperville Sun’s All-Area Football Team for a second straight year.