By TOM LEA
MADISON – It’s no secret that Danny O’Brien enrolled at Wisconsin with hopes of earning the starting quarterback gig that was left vacant by the departure of senior Russell Wilson a season ago.
There’s no doubt he, along with both Joel Stave and Curt Phillips, were eyeing the starting spot, but all three knew there was simply one person that could emerge victorious.
Knowing that, it would have been absolutely shocking to see the winner — Danny O’Brien in this case — emerge and develop an arrogant attitude. It’s just not the way this program has been constructed during Bret Bielema’s seven years at the helm.
“I’m honored. To be a part of this team is a privilege in and of itself,” O’Brien said. “To be named the starting quarterback here was something I’m proud of just because it’s been a lot of hard work. We have a great quarterback room.
“It was a really tough competition.”
It was probably toughest for O’Brien, considering he had to maneuver his way through three signal caller’s in font of him. He started as the team’s No. 4 quarterback and finished as the team’s No. 1…with two full weeks remaining before UW’s first game.
“Just the presence he’s shown since he’s been here,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said. “He’s really good in all types of situations, and the thing that’s just kind of intrigued me as well as I think it kind of woke some of those other guys, is his ability to make something happen when nothing is there.
“He has the ability to do some things with his feet, that I didn’t really know coming into this that he is as good as he is.”
O’Brien said he never really noticed a moment when he separated himself from the remainder of the pack. He said he focused on himself and if it was meant to be it would take care of itself.
“I didn’t know when it was going to be named,” O’Brien said. “I just wanted to work every day and I was happy to hear. Now the work really starts and we’ve got to get forward to the first game.”
That will come Sept. 1 against Northern Iowa. Until then, UW still has a number of practices in fall camp and game week. O’Brien said it feels good to be receiving all the reps with the No. 1 offense, but the fact he’s slated to start every game isn’t going to change the way he approaches his role.
“My approach in practice won’t change,” O'Brien said. “I’ll prepare the same way. If I have to change it I wasn’t working hard enough before. I’m going to just continue going out here 110 percent and just be the same guy I’ve been.”
O’Brien on his conversation with Stave and Phillips after he learned he would be the starter:
“I think anyone that wouldn’t win one would be disappointed. They’re great guys. They congratulated me and I said, ‘Let’s keep working.’ We have that mentality. We all came out Monday and worked hard. You still have to push each other. It’s not necessarily over. We’re still working pretty hard and trying to get this team ready to go.”
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