We all heard rumblings that this guy could recruit. But c'mon, did anybody actually think Gary Andersen would reel in talent as if he were fishing with dynamite?
Andersen's ability to compile top-flight talent at the quarterback position before he has even coached a game on the Camp Randall sidelines is extremely impressive. As all coaches say, the goal is to get one targeted quarterback per recruiting class, and he's certainly meeting that quota early in his tenure.
The latest quarterback commitment came yesterday when four-star quarterback D.J. Gillins verbally signed on with Wisconsin. Gillins, the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the 2014 class according to 247 Sports, seems to have the requisite tools to excel at the collegiate level: good arm strength and play-making ability with his feet. Acquiring talent with those traits seems to be the trend in quarterbacking these days.
Not only is Gillins' decision to play for the Badgers an exciting proposition for Wisconsin football down the road, but I think it also bodes well for Tanner McEvoy and his chances of winning the starting quarterback job this year. In fact, if I'm in McEvoy's shoes, I'm ecstatic about this move.
Andersen's recruitment of Gillins makes it clear as day that he wants his own version of Chuckie Keeton at Wisconsin. Gillins might be that player in the future; McEvoy has the skills and capabilities to fill that role now.
I'm sure Andersen likes the leadership qualities and veteran presence of guys like Joel Stave and Curt Phillips because they've been successful in Madison. But McEvoy has more play-making ability than either of the aforementioned Wisconsin starters, and there is a reason he was brought in to compete this fall -- he's Andersen's guy.
Also consider the fact Andersen had no direct ties to Stave or Phillips before coming to Wisconsin. He doesn't owe them anything. If the headman thinks the JUCO transfer gives him the best opportunity to win and establish the type of offense he covets, then McEvoy will be under center Aug. 31 against UMass.
All of this is a tad difficult for me to delve into because I developed an affinity for Joel "Sunshine" Stave last year. His moxie and ability to command respect in the huddle at such a young age really astounded me. Obviously his big-time arm was fun to watch too, but it was the intangibles that I thought might allow him to be a special Wisconsin quarterback someday.
But now, as I try to read the signs, the idea of Stave having a long and illustrious career as a Badger seems like a faint possibility. And that will be okay with me, as long as McEvoy wins.
With the ascendance of this Wisconsin program over the past three seasons comes a new weight of expectations. All Badger Nation wants is checkmarks in the win column, and if McEvoy can deliver in that regard, he'll win everybody over-myself included.