MADISON - Shortly after the Wisconsin Athletic Department announced that Danny O'Brien would be joining the Badgers as a transfer quarterback, O'Brien took part in a conference call with reporters to talk about his decision. O'Brien discussed why he picked the Badgers and how he thinks he'll fit in with his new team, among other topics.
Below are a few selected quotes from O'Brien, who said he's planning on moving to Madison as soon as possible after he graduates this spring.
Why did you pick Wisconsin?
"Obviously I was blessed to have several great opportunities at other schools," O'Brien said, "But like I said, the vibe I got when I was at Wisconsin was special. Being with the players and the coaching staff, being in Madison, the city and campus was great. It was kind of everything I was looking for going in to this process, and that's really what did it."
Did Russell Wilson's success affect your decision? Will there be much pressure to follow behind him?
"Obviously his success was something that I followed a little bit, since I played him when he was in the ACC," O'Brien said. "I think the fact that he showed it was possible was big, but at the same time I'm a different player, I'm in a different situation, but it was obviously a positive factor. Obviously our paths are similar, coming from the ACC to Wisconsin, but it's a new year, and I'm a completely different guy. I don't see it as pressure at all, because it's a new year, a new team, and I'm a different player."
How would you describe yourself as a player?
"I take a lot of pride in being very prepared for every game," O'Brien said. "I'm definitely a pass-first quarterback, working out of the pocket, but I have a little bit of mobility. I pride myself on being very prepared, being accurate with the football, moving the chains, and just getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers and at Wisconsin they have a lot of them."
Do you have a playbook yet? How soon are you coming to Madison?
"I'm talking with coach Canada about getting a playbook right now, as soon as possible," O'Brien said. "I'm going to graduate this May, and then get to Wisconsin as soon as possible. I know the summer program starts in early June, I'd like to get there a little before just to get acclimated, but as soon as I graduate. My mom wants me to walk, so I'm going to do that for her, and once that's all over I'm going to get to Wisconsin as soon as possible and start working."
How close did you come to choosing Penn State?
"It was close, it was a very tough decision," O'Brien said. "There was no denying after I took the Wisconsin visit, especially after talking with my family about it, that Wisconsin was home. It felt more like the place I wanted to be."
Were there any other factors that affected your decision?
"(Wisconsin) was kind of the complete package for what I was looking for," O'Brien said. "The style of offense, the coaching staff, the players, it's a great area to go to school, my entire extended family lives in Minnesota, so they're just a few hours away. I was born in Minnesota so I'm familiar with the area, and obviously it's a great place on game day to play college football."
What did you think of new OC Matt Canada and the rest of the players?
"Coach Canada is an extremely sharp coach, very impressive, and the offense is going to be pretty much Wisconsin football," O'Brien said. "He brings a unique aspect to it because of his experiences. There's no question about the offensive line and the running game with Wisconsin. I do think it fits what I do well, it's pretty similar to what we did at Maryland two years ago."
What did you think of the offensive line when you saw them practice?
"You hear about how big those guys are, but until you actually see them practice it does no justice," O'Brien said. "It was unbelievable. And anytime you can have a solid run game, it allows so many more things to happen. If you can start with a good run game it really helps your offense in a lot of ways."
After visiting the Badgers over the weekend, why did you go back to visit Penn State for a second time?
"I thought Wisconsin was the place, but after talking it over with my high school coach and my family I felt like I wanted to see Penn State practice," O'Brien said. "It was a big decision for me to pull the trigger on Wisconsin so I just wanted to make sure that I was making the best decision that I could. I felt good about it after I left, and here we are today."
Does this decision kind of rejuvenate you?
"I don't regret one day on campus at Maryland, but I do feel rejuvenated to kind of close this chapter and start a new chapter," O'Brien said. "It's refreshing, it's exciting, and I have a lot to prove all over again."
How does it feel to have two years on campus instead of just one?
"I'm really excited to have two years," O'Brien said. "It kind of just worked out like that, which is great. I think with being there for two years I'll be able to settle in, and it'll feel like a new home."
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