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March 28, 2012

O'Brien chooses Wisconsin



MADISON - Former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien will transfer to Wisconsin and compete for the starting quarterback job, according to a release by the Wisconsin Athletic Department.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel first reported the news Wednesday morning, and reports flew quickly until the official word came from the Athletic Department Wednesday afternoon.

"We're excited that Danny has chosen to attend Wisconsin," head coach Bret Bielema said via release Wednesday. "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."

This is the second consecutive year that the Badgers have brought in a transfer quarterback, after bringing in Russell Wilson during the summer of last year. O'Brien will be eligible to play right away, after he completes his undergraduate degree this spring at Maryland.

O'Brien's transfer should bring an element of stability to a position group that sorely needs it for the second straight year. With only two healthy quarterbacks on the roster, the Badgers were looking for more experience under center. After starting 17 games for the Maryland Terrapins over the last two seasons, it looks like the Badgers got what they wanted once again.

In the release, Bielema mentioned that O'Brien has not been promised the starting quarterback job, and will still compete for playing time with Joe Brennan and Joel Stave, who looked to be the top options for the job before O'Brien's transfer.

"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," Bielema said. "He understands that and is excited for that opportunity."

O'Brien announced his plan to transfer from the Terrapins after falling out with first-year head coach Randy Edsall and struggling in Maryland's new spread offense. O'Brien struggled in his sophomore season after being named ACC Rookie of the Year after the 2010 season. He started seven games for the Terps in 2011, but was eventually benched by Edsall and missed the latter part of the year with a broken left arm.

O'Brien's transfer, in conjunction with Ohio State's post-season ban, means the Badgers are the likely favorites to win the Leaders division for a second-straight season. How well O'Brien adjusts to a new school and a more familiar offensive system is yet to be seen, but at the very least the Badgers will have brought in a stabilizing presence under center for the next two seasons.

O'Brien is reported to have chosen between Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ole Miss, and visited the Badgers last weekend before visiting Penn State for a second time earlier this week.

For more Wisconsin Badgers news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter.


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