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New Wisconsin Badger quarterback was coached by St. Croix Central graduate

St. Croix Central graduate Todd Willert (above) coached Danny O'Brien in high school in North Carolina.

The football world is abuzz because the Wisconsin Badgers were able to reel in quarterback Danny O'Brien, who is currently at the University of Maryland.

If you want to know about O'Brien, there isn't a better source than 1990 St. Croix Central graduate Todd Willert. Willert was O'Brien's coach at East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, N.C. Willert has been the head coach at East Forsyth since 2004.

Willert helped O'Brien to make the decision to join the Badgers.

"It's been a crazy journey, the last couple months," Willert said.

Willert said that once O'Brien decided he was leaving Maryland, they put out feelers to see what universities might be interested. When the Badgers showed interest, Willert contacted Badger coach Bret Bielema, who expressed that the Badgers' interest was sincere.

The process moved quickly from there, with O'Brien officially signing on to play with the Badgers on Wednesday. O'Brien will graduate from Maryland this spring, after three years of studies. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

"He's very smart," Willert said of O'Brien. "He's a student of the game, that's one of his attractions."

O'Brien chose Wisconsin over several other suitors, led by Penn State and Vanderbilt. Wisconsin has a recent history of success with transfer quarterbacks, after Russell Wilson transferred in this season to lead the Badgers to the Rose Bowl. Like Wilson, O'Brien will not have to sit out a year because he will graduate this spring.

O'Brien, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, was the Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the year as a redshirt freshman in 2010. He had a 7-3 record as a starter and threw for 2,438 yards, with 22 touchdown passes. He threw eight interceptions in 337 pass attempts and ranked fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency (134.5). The Terrapins then went through a coaching change and O'Brien's style didn't mesh well with the new coaching staff.

One of the main reasons O'Brien chose to join the Badgers was his belief that his quarterbacking style meshed well with what the Badgers have planned offensively for the upcoming seasons.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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