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Penn State Football: Danny O'Brien Believes Wisconsin Better Fit for Immediate Success

by on March 28, 2012 1:40 PM

UPDATED 2:30 p.m.

Danny O’Brien’s decision to attend Wisconsin instead of Penn State came down to the final hour.

Todd Willert, O’Brien’s high school coach, said O’Brien called Penn State coach Bill O’Brien around 9 or 10 a.m. Wednesday to inform him he was headed to Madison.

“He said he got Coach’s voicemail, then he emailed him and wanted Coach to call him back,” Willert said Wednesday afternoon by phone. “Danny wanted to tell him over the phone [before the news release came out].”

Willert was unsure whether both O’Briens linked up over the phone before the announcement early Wednesday afternoon.

As for the decision itself, which ultimately came down to Wisconsin and Penn State, with Vanderbilt as a third option, Danny O’Brien had doubts about the depth at some positions on Penn State’s roster.

“He felt Wisconsin might be a better fit for him right now and for the immediate future,” Willert said. O’Brien was also concerned about the uncertainty surrounding Wisconsin’s offense with new coordinator Matt Canada but was assured it won’t differ much from the pro-style attack used in Madison for years, dating back to the Barry Alvarez regime.

Danny O’Brien attended Penn State’s spring practice on Monday, his second visit to State College in less than two weeks. Willert said O’Brien wanted to soak in a practice before making his final decision.

It won’t be O’Brien’s last trip to State College, either. Wisconsin plays Penn State on Nov. 24 at Beaver Stadium.

“It will be a weird, awkward game, I’ll tell you that,” Willert said. “This was a tough one. As a coach and for Danny as a player, this was one of the toughest decisions he had to make in life. It will be tough to come back and play at Penn State. Just in that short time he forged so many friendships.”

Earlier at 1:40 p.m.

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Former Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien won't play for Penn State after all.

Despite visiting Happy Valley on Monday for a second time, he is transferring to Wisconsin, the school announced on Wednesday.

O’Brien, a redshirt junior on track to graduate this spring, will have two seasons of eligibility remaining. He also visited Ole Miss.

Wisconsin plays Penn State on Nov. 24 at Beaver Stadium.

"We're excited that Danny has chosen to attend Wisconsin," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said in a news release. "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 follows Russell Wilson, who led the Badgers to the Big Ten championship in 2011 after transferring in from North Carolina State. NCAA rules allow O'Brien to transfer without penalty, provided he enrolls in a graduate program that Maryland does not offer.

Shortly after the announcement was made, O'Brien took to Twitter.

"I will always be a proud Terp alum, but am hungry to get after it and start my next chapter in Madison! Lots of hard work ahead," he wrote.

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Nate Mink covers Penn State football and news for He's on Twitter as @MinkNate.
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