Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin  |  Last updated 3/7/12
MADISON, Wis. A quarterback battle is brewing as Wisconsin's spring football season approaches. But even coach Bret Bielema isn't sure how to fully evaluate the competition because half of his players at the position are injured. While quarterbacks Joe Brennan and Joel Stave actively prepare for the start of spring football on March 22, Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips will watch from the sideline. Bielema announced during Wednesday's pro day that Budmayr, a redshirt sophomore, continues to experience problems in his throwing arm and is likely to miss all of spring camp. Budmayr sat out the 2011 season after suffering nerve damage in his right elbow during fall practices. "It's some of the stuff that flared up during the fall unfortunately," Bielema said. "We're just trying to get Jon healthy overall before we even think about from a football standpoint. Our thoughts and prayers are with him. He's really going through a lot of appointments and meetings and hopefully going to get some answers for him soon."Bielema added that he wasn't sure if Budmayr's latest setback was career threatening."It's more of the same thing they haven't really gotten a handle on," he said. "Like anybody, when you go to a doctor, you expect to find an answer and it's not there. It's frustrating, so we're trying to find those things out."Budmayr was ranked as the No. 1 high school quarterback in Illinois when he enrolled at Wisconsin in January 2009 to take part in spring practice. After using a redshirt season in 2009, he appeared in three games in 2010, completing 8 of 10 passes for 134 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.Phillips, a redshirt junior, missed 2011 following a setback in his recovery from a second ACL tear in his right knee and will be limited this spring. Bielema said Phillips would be involved in passing situations that didn't involve live drills.Phillips appeared in five games in 2009 and completed 7 of 13 passes for 65 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. With Budmayr and Phillips sidelined, that leaves only Stave and Brennan to compete in spring practice. Stave, a freshman from Greenfield, Wis., did not appear in a game in 2011. But he earned first-team all-state as a high school senior from the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association after throwing for 2,635 yards and 22 touchdowns.Brennan, a redshirt freshman, appeared in six games during mop-up duty in 2011 behind quarterback Russell Wilson. He completed 6 of 15 passes for 48 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.Barring a sudden transfer situation similar to the one involving Wilson who was eligible to play immediately in 2011 and became Wisconsin's starter after graduating from North Carolina State Bielema said he might have to use an emergency backup plan. He mentioned freshman defensive back Nate Hammon, who played quarterback at Milton High School in Wisconsin, as an emergency possibility."I know even within our team we've had some discussions of different guys that have played quarterback in the past if we get caught in a bind," Bielema said.In addition to updates on Budmayr and Phillips, Bielema also said that incoming freshman Bart Houston, a four-star quarterback from De La Salle High School in California, likely would miss part of fall practice because of a cyst removal on his throwing shoulder from a previous injury.Bielema added that he wasn't concerned about going through spring practice with just two healthy quarterbacks."We did it a year ago," Bielema said. "It was just Joe and Joel last year, and Jon was in there a little bit. I think those two quarterbacks are going to benefit a great deal. They'll get a lot of attention."Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter.
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