When pictures surfaced Monday of O'Brien at Penn State spring practice — his second visit to Stat e College — in a Penn State windbreaker, it seemed like his signing with the Nittany Lions was all but a done deal.
But apparently O'Brien, a Maryland transfer looking for a home, just didn't bring a jacket on his visit because on Wednesday Wisconsin announced he had signed with the Badgers.
O'Brien is the second consecutive ACC quarterback transfer the Badgers have gotten in as many seasons. N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson ended up being a lucrative get as he led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Badgers also boasted a Heisman Trophy finalist in Montee Ball, who decided to return for his senior season.
O'Brien will graduate Maryland and be eligible to play right away for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema issued a statement on O'Brien's signing:
"We're excited that Danny has chosen to attend Wisconsin. 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. Having graduated from Maryland in just three years, you know right away that he is a smart kid.
"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. He understands that and is excited for that opportunity."
O'Brien is a welcome addition considering the Badgers currently have just two healthy quarterbacks - Joe Brennan and Joel Stave — and Jon Budmayr or Curt Phillips are questionable for the start of fall camp.
Of course O'Brien will have to win the starting job like Wilson did a year ago and unfair comparisons to Wilson will be made. Wilson was a fifth-year quarterback, who was a proven leader at N.C. State. O'Brien was the ACC Rookie of the Year at Maryland two years ago, but last year was rough as he fought for playing time and threw 10 interceptions to just seven touchdowns.
Still with Ball back, a lot of the pressure will be off O'Brien to be the sole source of offense. And Ball seems excited about his new backfield partner. He tweeted soon after O'Brien's signing was announced:
"Danny o brien just messaged me this.. 'let's do this'... it shall be done then my man. #wiscONsin."