Wisconsin signs ex-Maryland QB Danny O'Brien

CHRIS JENKINS AP Sports Writer Published:

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien committed to playing for Wisconsin on Wednesday, marking the second year in a row the Badgers have snapped up a high-profile quarterback who was looking to switch schools.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema announced the addition, which fills a gap for the Badgers after the departure of Russell Wilson.

Like O'Brien, Wilson took advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players who already have graduated to transfer without sitting out a year. Wilson played one standout season for the Badgers after leaving North Carolina State. O'Brien will graduate after three years at Maryland and has two years of eligibility remaining.

"We're excited that Danny has chosen to attend Wisconsin," Bielema said. "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."

O'Brien played 17 games at Maryland over the past two seasons and was named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2010.

O'Brien also reportedly considered Penn State and Vanderbilt. Late last year, the Badgers drew interest from quarterback Dayne Crist, who ultimately decided to leave Notre Dame for Kansas.

Although O'Brien immediately becomes the Badgers' likely starter next season, Bielema says that wasn't promised to him.

"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."

Before O'Brien decided to join Wisconsin, Wilson's departure left the Badgers without an obvious candidate to start at quarterback next season.

Sophomore Joe Brennan and redshirt freshman Joel Stave are the only quarterbacks able to participate in spring practice. Jon Budmayr has a recurring arm issue and Curt Phillips is recovering from multiple knee surgeries.

O'Brien played well as a redshirt freshman in 2010, completing 57 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. But he struggled last season as Maryland switched coaches and offensive styles.

In nine games in 2011, O'Brien completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 1,648 yards with seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. O'Brien lost playing time to C.J. Brown as the season went on. Then he broke his left arm against Notre Dame on Nov. 12, ending his season.