Ole! Rafael Gaglianone Key to Wisconsin’s Success


Earlier this week, Wisconsin Badgers kicker Rafael Gaglianone was one of 14 Wisconsin players to earn recognition on a Big Ten All-Conference team, garnering Honorable Mention All-Conference nods from both the coaches and the media.

He also kicked his way onto the BTN.com All-Freshman team this week, the only Badger to make the list (Wisconsin freshman safety Lubern Figaro was an honorable mention pick).

Wisconsin Kicker Rafael Gaglianone lines up a field goal in the snow against Nebraska at Camp Randall Stadium. Jim Oxley photograph

Gaglianone has been a key factor for the 2014 Wisconsin Badgers football team, and a major reason for the successes they have earned. The kicker brings consistency to the kicking game and adds some fun to the Badgers sideline.

Last year Wisconsin kickers combined to make 14 of 21 field goals (66.6 percent). Gaglianone immediately stepped in this season and upgraded Wisconsin’s special teams. Kicker Andrew Endicott still handles kickoffs, but Gaglianone has been reliable in the field goal game.

A great profile on Madison.com from Andy Baggott tells Gaglianone’s tale: a Sao Paulo, Brazil transplant, Gaglianone had his sights set on a soccer scholarship, but he found the football field an easier route to a college education, and switched sports at the advice of a family friend.

Coming out of Baylor High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Gaglianone chose Wisconsin over N.C. State. He impressed in summer ball, eventually earning the starting placekicker job over incumbent Jack Russell, who split time with Kyle French last season.

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And once the starting gig was in the bag, Gaglianone quickly became a fan-favorite. When the starting lineups are announced prior to home games at Camp Randall, no Badger – other than Melvin Gordon – draws a larger cheer than the Brazilian kicker.

His popularity among Badgers fans likely has a lot do with the first time much of Wisconsin’s faithful saw him in action.

Against LSU in the opening game of the season, Gaglianone drilled a 51-yard field goal in the first quarter to put Wisconsin up 10-0. His ensuing samba celebration quickly made the rounds on the Internet, and secured Gaglianone’s spot as a fan-favorite.

Now, following made field goals and extra points at Camp Randall, “Ole, Ole” blasts over the loudspeakers in honor of the Brazilian.

Badger fans have heard the tune plenty this season, as Gaglianone, in 12 games for the Badgers, has made 17 of 20 field goals and 55 of 57 extra points, totaling 106 points on the year. He’s already surpassed Wisconsin’s point total from kickers a season ago.

His powerful leg will be an important factor in the upcoming Big Ten Championship game. Special teams could be the deciding factor between the top two teams in the conference, and Gaglianone will likely get a chance to make a big impact on the big stage.