Former Maryland quarterback Danny O’Brien created some excitement at Penn State earlier this week when he watched the first day of the Nittany Lions’ spring practice, leading to speculation that he might elect to play for new head coach Bill O’Brien.
But the younger O’Brien announced Wednesday that he chosen Wisconsin, not Penn State, as the place where he will spend his final two years of eligibility.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound O’Brien took two visits to Penn State during the process of trying to decide where he wanted to go after getting his release from Maryland. He said he took the second trip Monday so he could watch the Nittany Lions practice.
In the end, he said it came down to Penn State or Wisconsin, and the Badgers prevailed.
“It was close. It was a very tough decision,” O’Brien said Wednesday on a conference call. “I have a pretty tight relationship with coach O’Brien, and he’s going to do some great things there. It was a pretty similar situation (to Wisconsin) in a lot of respects – great people, great players, it felt good there.
“But 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. Penn State was a great opportunity that a lot of people are lucky to have. But clearly Wisconsin to me was the place I wanted to be.”
O’Brien also reportedly considered Vanderbilt and Mississippi.
O’Brien is graduating in three years, and will get his degree from Maryland in mid-May. Since he redshirted his first year, he will have two years remaining. And because he has his degree, he will not have to sit out a year.
After passing for more than 2,400 yards and 22 touchdowns during his freshman season when he was named ACC rookie of the year, O’Brien struggled in new head coach Randy Edsall’s system last season. He broke his left (non-throwing) arm in a game against Notre Dame late in the year.
For the second straight year, the Badgers acquired a proven quarterback who had graduated from an ACC school. Russell Wilson, formerly of North Carolina State, helped carry Wisconsin to the Big Ten championship last season. The Badgers return a Heisman Trophy candidate in running back Montee Ball.