MADISON, Wis. For the second straight season, the University of Wisconsin football team will solve its quarterback problems with a graduate transfer student.
Given that worked out pretty well with Russell Wilson last season, Badgers football coach Bret Bielema was pleased to announce Wednesday that Danny O'Brien, who started 17 games at Maryland in the past two years, has committed to Wisconsin and will attend graduate school there this fall.
"We're excited that Danny has chosen to attend Wisconsin," Bielema said in a statement. "The first thing we did when we were aware of Danny's interest was to try and find out what type of person he was and if he would fit into our program. From our dealings with him and all the things I have heard from those who have been around him, he is a tremendous person and has great character. He had a fantastic visit and our current players who met him came away impressed. Having graduated from Maryland in just three years, you know right away that he is a smart kid.
"As is the case with any player who joins our program, we have not promised Danny anything other than the chance to come in during the fall and compete for the starting quarterback position. He understands that and is excited for that opportunity."
Maryland announced in February that O'Brien who has two years of eligibility remaining -- was leaving its program, and speculation began almost immediately that the Badgers would be one of his top suitors. Wisconsin was almost devoid of quarterbacks with game experience after Wilson used up his last season of eligibility with the Badgers following a transfer from North Carolina State last summer. Wisconsin entered spring practice with only two healthy QBs, and O'Brien visited the campus last weekend.
Like Wilson, O'Brien got off to a strong start at an ACC school but eventually fell out of favor with his team. North Carolina State wanted Wilson who led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl last season -- to stop splitting his attention between football and baseball, and Maryland soured on O'Brien when he struggled in new coach Randy Edsall's spread offense. In 2010, however, O'Brien was the ACC Rookie of the Year after throwing for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns with eight interceptions in 10 starts. He led the Terrapins to a 9-4 record, but the team fell to 2-10 in 2011, and O'Brien threw for only 1,648 yards and seven touchdowns with 10 interceptions in nine starts.
O'Brien, a 6-foot-3 215-pounder whose 2011 season ended when he suffered a broken bone in his non-throwing arm during a Nov. 12 loss to Notre Dame, reportedly chose Wisconsin over Penn State and Vanderbilt. At Wisconsin, he will run an offense similar to the pro-style attack he thrived in at Maryland in 2010.