TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Quarterback Joel Stave #2 of the Wisconsin Badgers warms up before the start of the Outback Bowl against the Auburn Tigers on January 1, 2015 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Wisconsin Badgers Spring Football 2015 Preview: Quarterbacks

(As we transition from national signing day to the start of spring football we’ll take an in-depth look at each position group for the Wisconsin Badgers.)

A new coach (again) and perhaps a new lease on life…yet an old feel to it. Wisconsin’s quarterback position is going through yet another year of transition, only this time back to a more traditional feel and with it some old faces are going to be re-aquatinted.

With head coach Paul Chryst taking over for Gary Andersen it means a very hands-on approach to the position for the head man in charge. However, the biggest question is just what that means for a now stocked and loaded position group.

The Badgers added two very different, but equally talented quarterbacks to the fold in the 2015 recruiting class and Chryst will be reunited with two quarterbacks he recruited to Wisconsin — one has become a starter and the other has yet to live up to some massive potential.

So, as the Badgers enter the 2015 offseason and head towards spring practice, one has to wonder exactly what is in store at the position.

With that, let’s take a look at the details and break down the quarterback position ahead of 2015’s Badgers spring football camp.


Returning Starter(s): Joel Stave (Sr.)

Departing Players: Tanner McEvoy (Sr., safety), Connor Senger (wide receiver)

Coming in to Program: Austin Kafentzis (early enrollee), Alex Hornibrook (early enrollee)

Biggest Storyline: What does Chryst do with a loaded quarterback room this spring?

Joel Stave comes in having started 28 games in his three years at Wisconsin, not too shabby for a former walk-on, huh? The problem is, his numbers don’t exactly instill a lot of confidence in him as a dynamic quarterback that can take the Badgers beyond good and in to the elite of the Big Ten and national landscape.

With a new coach in place it could be good news for Stave, or it could be really good news for a quarterback room that has two 4-star quarterbacks and two high 3-star quarterbacks around Stave. Chryst is going to be familiar with the work of Bart Houston, a quarterback he recruited to Wisconsin while offensive coordinator and we’ve all seen the cannon Houston has for an arm. We’ve also gotten to witness the fact an arm isn’t the only thing that makes a quarterback. Houston being reunited with Chryst is something to really keep an eye on this spring.

Credit: 247Sports.com

Credit: 247Sports.com

Then there are two very interesting “dual-threat” quarterbacks to also watch. One fancies his game after Russell Wilson and the other is a big time talent with an interesting adjustment to make going forward.

Can early enrollee Austin Kafentzis be the man his prolific high school numbers (as in 2nd best all-purpose yards ever by a quarterback in high school history) suggest? Redshirt freshman D.J. Gillins hasn’t been seen much by the media or the coaching staff, but last time we saw him he was clearly picking things up fast. If the progression continues, could his athletic ability and improving mechanics give the Badgers that extra spark needed?

The good news is that for the first time in years the quarterback battle that is likely to ensue is because there is great competition and not out of just pure need. After all, that’s how the Badgers ended up with Joel Stave starting for the majority of his last three years in the offense.


Who Starts Against Alabama: Joel Stave

He may not be the quarterback you want, but returning starter Joel Stave is likely the quarterback Wisconsin Badgers football needs — at least against Alabama at the very least.

It’s the only conclusion one can come to after what has happened to him and the team over the last three years and where the program has gone without him.

It’s an amazing story really, considering no one gave the quarterback a chance after he was buried as a walk-on quarterback who enrolled early in the 2011 season. However, those that remember an awful day at Camp Randall Stadium in April of 2011 can’t shake the memory of the little known walk-on who was the most impressive QB on the day.

Ever since that day, the quarterback from Greendale, Wis. has seen roadblock after roadblock thrown his way and ever since that day, Stave has come away as the quarterback who has given Wisconsin the best chance to win a football game.

I’m done betting against him (even if I was a big fan of his from the 2011 spring game forward and flipped the other way around). Stave has the proven track record of winning and beating the odds, but he’ll face his toughest challenge yet this spring with a line of 4-star quarterbacks behind him and a head coach with a penchant for getting the most out of his quarterbacks.

Still, it’s hard to bet against the man who has overcome all hurdles tossed his way. Look for him to at least get the first crack as a starter in 2015, and he just may hang on to the starting job for dear life one last time.

Andrew Coppens

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He is the Managing Editor of MadTownBadger and associate editor of Bloguin's World Cup site, 32flags.com as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10.com