Ferguson against Minnesota, coming back

UW tight end Jake Ferguson catches a pass over the middle against Minnesota last month. Ferguson announced Saturday he was returning to UW for a fifth season and not making the jump to the NFL yet. 

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University of Wisconsin tight end Jake Ferguson announced Saturday he will return to the program for a fifth season and not declare for the NFL draft.

Ferguson has been one of the most consistent receiving threats for the Badgers over the past three seasons and earned All-Big Ten first-team honors from the Associated Press and Big Ten Conference media voters this year.

“These past four years being a Badgers has been a blessing and full of moments I will cherish forever,” Ferguson wrote in a social media post.

“Whether it was winning the Axe, all the different bowl game experiences, or even just the simple trips with the O-line to Chili’s, I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else with any other group of teammates coaches and fans. After a lot of self reflection and talking with my family, I am excited to announce that I have chosen to stay for my fifth year and play football for the University of Wisconsin. I believe my time at Wisconsin is not yet finished and also gives me the opportunity to graduate from one of the greatest universities! And for those keeping tabs, there will be one more year of #BarrysGrandson.

“Let’s get to work! On, Wisconsin.”

As anyone who watched a UW game on television heard, repeatedly, throughout his tenure with the Badgers, Ferguson is the grandson of UW athletic director and former coach Barry Alvarez.

Jake Ferguson mug


Ferguson led the Badgers with 30 catches, 305 receiving yards and four touchdowns this season, and has 99 catches for 1,168 yards and 10 scores in his UW career.

The 6-foot-5, 245 pounder was ranked as the seventh-best tight end in the 2021 draft class by The Draft Network.

His return to the Badgers deepens a tight end group that has a good deal of young talent, but would’ve been relying on unproven players had Ferguson made the jump to the NFL. He also emerged as one of the team's leaders through a difficult offseason and year on the field. 

"With Jake, I think it just comes natural," tight ends coach Mickey Turner said of Ferguson's leadership.

"He’s not going to speak up if it’s not something he doesn’t believe in, so he’s not going to just rah-rah all the time. But when he’s out there, you know he’s invested and when he jumps up and he says something out loud, the team respects him because they know his body of work."

Breaking down the Badgers' recruiting class by position

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This article originally ran on madison.com.

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