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From one Chryst to another: Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli spends week with brother of college coach

This story was originally published on Jan. 25 during the week the Broncos spent coaching the 2018 Senior Bowl.

MOBILE, Ala. — When tight end Troy Fumagalli arrived at the Senior Bowl this week, he already owned an advantage over the other top players who would play in the all-star game.

He didn't have to learn his coach's name.

After three years with head coach Paul Chryst at Wisconsin, Fumagalli transitioned this week to tight ends coach Geep Chryst.

But Geep and his younger brother Paul share more than a surname.

"[There are a] lot of similarities," Fumagalli said. "Both know a ton about football. Both are both genuine guys. Both keep it loose. Both crack jokes. So a lot of similarities – it's fun to play for Coach [Geep] Chryst."

Geep showed off that sense of humor Thursday when asked about coaching Fumagalli this week at the Senior Bowl.

"First off," Geep cut in, "he's probably got the best damn coaching of any guy that has been here in the last decade, except for maybe Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham."

Daniel and Graham — in addition to both being former Broncos — also played at Wisconsin under Paul.

This week at the Senior Bowl isn't Geep's first exposure to the talented tight end who is among the top prospects at his position in this year's draft. Geep watched him and his brother's team "every Saturday, especially on my DVR."

"I love watching him play, and he's had a great career," Geep said. "Probably the highlight of his career was the Cotton Bowl last year, where he was the Cotton Bowl MVP. [It's] hard for the tight end to be the Cotton Bowl MVP, but that's what he was."

Fumagalli had six receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown in that game to end his junior season, but working with Geep this week at the Senior Bowl could pay dividends that can help him improve into a productive NFL tight end.

The 6-foot-5, 234-pound tight end — who is missing an index finger due to a prenatal condition but has "great hands" according to Geep — undoubtedly has the necessary skills to be an impact player.

"One thing I think all of these [North Team tight ends] have done — watching their college tape — is really make the tough, contested catch," Geep said. "And you need that on third down and in the red zone. And they've continued to do that here. 'Fum' probably has more of a blocking background than some of these guys. … [He's] done a nice job — he's been in-line — with point-of-attack blocking."

That doesn't mean there isn't room for Fumagalli to improve. And though the Chryst brothers are similar in their approach, Fumagalli has pulled unique lessons from Geep during their limited time together in Mobile.

"Just confidence and having fun," said Fumagalli when asked where Geep had helped him this week. "Any time you get a chance to work with a guy like coach Geep Chryst that coached in the league this long as a coordinator and tight ends coach, [you] just pick his mind [as] best you can."

Geep has been similarly impressed with Fumagalli's football intelligence. Even after watching the tight end from afar for several years, this week offered Geep the first opportunity to truly evaluate the young player in a meeting room.

"Like with all these guys, you don't know what their background is in terms of handling the meetings, the volume that you put in offensively and then the ability to take what you're teaching out onto the field," Geep said. "And really all four of our [North Team tight ends] have done a great job with that."

There's one area, though, in which Geep may be falling short of his coaching duties.

Through Thursday, Geep said he wasn't sure he'd convinced Fumagalli that he's the best coach of the Chryst brothers.

"Not yet," Geep joked. "I still have two more days to impress him."

Get one of your first looks at the players on the North Team as the Broncos' coaching staff get set to lead them in a week of practice at the Senior Bowl.

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