Danny O’Brien was once the ACC Rookie of the Year back in 2010 when he was with the Maryland Terrapins. Last season, he transferred to the Big Ten to try his hand at leading the Wisconsin Badgers much like Russell Wilson had done the year before. But things didn’t work out quite as planned for O’Brien and the Badgers in 2012 and now O’Brien has left the team, ending his career at the FBS level and making a murky quarterback picture clearer in Madison.
Wisconsin was expecting O’Brien to make an immediate impact last season when he arrived from Maryland, but he was never able to grab a hold of the starting quarterback job and make it his own. He made just one start on the season before tumbling down the depth chart but still managed to appear in seven games, completing 52-of-86 passes for 523 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. His 6.1 yards per attempt average were the lowest of the Badgers’ three quarterbacks in 2012.
And things apparently haven’t gotten better for the graduate transfer under new head coach Gary Andersen this spring. Wisconsin had an open competition for the No. 1 quarterback position next fall between O’Brien, Curt Phillips and Joel Stave. Nobody ran away with the competition while O’Brien struggled at the bottom of the depth chart, so Andersen will re-assess the position in fall camp when JUCO transfer Tanner McEvoy joins the team. After O’Brien’s departure, the race will merely have one fewer QB crowding it.
For O’Brien, he has one more year of eligibility remaining but will have to transfer to an FCS program in order to use it. It’s likely he will land at a program closer to his home in North Carolina. Appalachian State, Campbell and Elon have all come up as possible landing spots for the former star QB.
But wherever he lands, it won’t be with the Badgers. While it’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to rekindle his career in Madison, his departure will make things easier as Wisconsin transitions to a new coach next season. As O’Brien would have undoubtedly fallen further behind, it’s unlikely he would have brought much positive energy to the team in any fashion.