When Curt Phillips committed to Wisconsin in February of 2008 one could have mistaken him for Jesus Christ himself. The fans were raving him about him, YouTubing him and dreaming about him. The Tim Tebow comparisons started to roll in (Note: That was just a random coincidence that I mentioned Tim Tebow and Jesus Christ in the same paragraph).
Who could blame them? The Badgers had just survived a season with Tyler Donovan under center and the options for 2009 were Dustin Sherer and Allan Evridge.
We all know how that played out.
Phillips of course redshirted his freshman season and Bret Bielema added another quarterback a year ago when he signed Jon Budmayr, who also redshirted his first season.
Like when Phillips signed, there was a lot of good things said about Budmayr, but the compliments became a little more substantiated when I talked to his teammates in August.
O'Brien Schofield and Jaevery McFadden both said he was the most impressive freshman they had seen on offense. But then Garrett Graham -- the guy who was actually catching passes from the quarterbacks -- also put Budmayr at the top of his list of most impressive freshmen.
"Jon Budmayr came in early and I saw what he can do," Graham said. "He really impressed a lot of us."
Now enter into the fold Joe Brennan, a 6-4, 195 pound quarterback from New Jersey that Scout.com's National Recruiting Editor Allen Wallace said "just might have the intangibles to emerge as a dominant player as he refines his technique." Brennan signed with the Badgers Wednesday.
Now all the sudden fans are wondering what will happen with Curt "Jesus" Phillips and it's a good question.
While senior quarterback Scott Tolzien has a very good chance of keeping his starting job next season, I'm not completely sold that it is a done deal. And it's not because Phillips has had another year to develop. It's because Jon Budmayr might just be good enough to steal the job.
What's brewing here is an extremely exciting and entertaining quarterback competition coming to a practice field near you in August of 2011. What might happen is a more surprising competition arriving in August of 2010.
With Budmayr and Brennan in the mix, there is already talk about moving Phillips to H-Back and it's not because he has been a bust at quarterback. No one saw Tolzien coming. It looked like Phillips' job to lose last Fall and while he did throw a number of interceptions in a key scrimmage late in training camp, Tolzien proved throughout the season that he won the quarterback job by much more than default -- which could not be said in 2008 when Donovan and Evridge were competing.
Phillips is still a talented quarterback, but now he has two other studs breathing down his back and a proven senior ahead of him.
So take the following prediction seriously: Tolzien will start the 2010 season as UW's starting quarterback, but not after a very competitive training camp that finishes with Phillips and Budmayr nearly tied for the the backup spot. Brennan will redshirt and Phillips will be used more often in 2010 to come in and change things up by running the football. You might even see him used as a decoy at H-Back and catch a few balls. But if for season Tolzien goes down with an injury, Budmayr will become the surprising starter, not Phillips.
As for 2011? Well if Tolzien has a solid senior season and keeps his starting job, then we are talking about the kind of quarterback competition the University of Wisconsin has never seen. And we're also talking about a number of options for Phillips that probably don't include starting at quarterback.
It may sound like a problem Badger fans, but it's a nice one to have.