Wisconsin Football: Kyle Penniston enters NCAA transfer portal

Wisconsin Football tight end Kyle Penniston has departed the program and will pursue transfer opportunities.

Kyle Penniston has played his final down in the Cardinal and White.

247Sports unveiled its Transfer Portal Feed earlier today, and the Wisconsin tight end’s profile is among the many listed there. Penniston’s presence in the transfer portal means that other schools are now free to contact and recruit him to join their programs, though that in and of itself does not necessarily mean that he is unable to return to Madison.

However, a UW official confirmed to Zach Heilprin of the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network that Penniston has already left the team and will not be rejoining the program.

The California native just finished up a redshirt junior season in which he played in all 13 games for the Badgers. However, the emergence of Jake Ferguson as Wisconsin’s go-to tight end relegated Penniston to a reserve role in which his production was limited to 3 catches for 18 yards and a touchdown.

Over his career, he played in 39 games with 21 starts and recorded 16 receptions for 176 yards and four scores.

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Penniston’s departure marks the culmination of a disappointing career for him as a Badger.

One of the more highly regarded members of Wisconsin’s 2015 recruiting class, he was a high 3-star (borderline 4-star) prospect who picked the Badgers over other offers from the likes of Florida State, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma, and Washington State. Many Wisconsin fans expected Penniston to develop into the next man up in a long line of star tight ends in Madison.

After sitting behind Troy Fumagalli for his first two seasons, 2018 was supposed to be the year that he picked up the mantle and became Wisconsin’s top option at the position. However, the redshirt freshman Ferguson seized that role for himself early on in the season with his outstanding play and never looked back, relegating Penniston to reserve duty.

That being said, I’m confident that the talent is still there, and I would expect him to become an impact player at another Power 5 program that can offer him more snaps than were available at Wisconsin. Penniston will have one year of eligibility remaining to make a name for himself, and could potentially play immediately next season if he can earn his degree in the spring or summer before transferring schools. If that can’t be done, he would need to be granted a hardship waiver by the NCAA to avoid sitting out 2019.

Penniston’s departure is a significant blow to Wisconsin’s tight end depth for the upcoming season. The good news is that the Badgers have a budding superstar at the position in Ferguson and a solid complementary player in Luke Benzschawel, but if one of them were to go down, Wisconsin could be in big trouble. Without Penniston, there are no proven reserves behind those two, so the Badgers would likely be forced to throw one of their true freshman tight ends (Hayden Rucci or Clay Cundiff) into the fire for major snaps.

With Penniston gone, look for Paul Chryst to try and add an instant impact JUCO tight end to his 2019 recruiting class.