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Wisconsin grad transfer TE Kyle Penniston to join Rutgers Football

Former Badgers starter comes to the banks with one year of eligibility left.

Georgia State v Wisconsin
Penniston found the endzone 4 times as a Badger, something RU needs more of.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Rutgers football has not yet announced the signing, but former Wisconsin Tight End Kyle Penniston announced on Twitter this afternoon that he will finish his career at Rutgers. He will be the second graduate transfer to announce his intentions in the last three days after quarterback McLane Carter did on Sunday.

The 6’4”, 243 lb. Orange, CA native arrives on the banks after playing in 39 games with 21 starts at Wisconsin. The former four star recruit had 16 receptions for 176 yards with four touchdowns in his Badgers career.

Kyle arrived in Madison as the 3rd best prospect in their 2015 recruiting class, just a notch below considered four stars by 247 (though considered four by other sources). He started three games as a redshirt freshman, scoring two touchdowns then started eight with one more the following season. He was on the Mackey Award Watch List a season ago as a redshirt junior, starting ten games but recording just three catches for 18 yards and a touchdown.

Wisconsin had a disappointing year (for them) in 2018 with an 8-5 record (5-4 Big Ten) and starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook elected to move on from the program to Florida State. Penniston was a victim of the Badgers’ revolving door at QB when Hornibrook was injured against Rutgers, and the team’s commitment to its running game. Kyle announced he was entering the transfer portal in late January.

It seemed logical Kyle could end up with another Power Five school because of his starting experience, but the master’s degree in Global Sports Business seemed to be most important to him. The Rutgers football program will gladly welcome him because Dennison arrives to a tight end room in transition, and immediately is the front-runner to get the starting nod. With the departures of Jerome Washington (NFL), Travis Vokolek (transfer), and Nakia Griffin-Stewart (transfer), it leaves incoming transfer Matt Alaimo (not yet eligible), converted quarterback Johnathan Lewis, walk-on Jonathan Pimentel, and walk-on early enrollee freshman Cooper Heisey (recently moved from QB also) as the current contingent. Anyone who doesn’t like this move is either salty or doesn’t understand football.

At first glance, Penniston has the skills to be a modern NFL Tight End. Of course as the starting tight end in one of the best power running offenses in the nation, Kyle should be able to block and he in fact does quite well. Not only can he block, he can then disengage and release (1:35 mark) for an easy touchdown. Kyle can also fake a block then slip through as well. He can also run pretty well in space after lining up in a three point stance, getting a nice gain against an NFL caliber corner in Desmond King (yes I swore never to say the name again, sorry). Kyle also shows as a good check down option, in this case at the back of the end zone, giving his QB a target along the end line. All of these moves and countermoves will be critical to an RU offense that needs all the help they can get. Hopefully he can help Position Coach Nunzio Campanile teach the same techniques to the youngsters.

He doesn’t show it on film, but if necessary there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t also function as a flexed tight end. It makes more sense to keep him along the line to potential help new left tackle Raiqwon O’Neal. Playing with the lefty Hornibrook, Penniston did line up mostly as the left tight end, Wisconsin often goes double tight. Or maybe instead assist Kamaal Seymour who may now protect the QBs blind side (assuming Carter gets a look).

Welcome to the banks, Kyle!

Special Thanks to commenter costigan_56 who provided the clips that made the links easy to post!