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February 2, 2011

Looking at the quarterbacks

MADISON - Knowing Jacoby Brissett has not signed a letter of intent and knowing that the four-star quarterback prospect has no intentions of doing so until after announcing his decision Friday night during halftime of his senior night basketball game, Bret Bielema was unable to directly discuss that recruiting saga.

At least directly anyway.

"There are some guys that we're on here till the bitter end," Bielema said. "I will say that there is a possibility of two other guys out there that we may add to this class if everything comes the way we want it. A couple of those guys could be delayed in their enrollment so we might gray shirt those guys.

"I think it was big to beat Ohio State the way we did. I don't think it was by chance that coach Joe Rudolph had a lot of those guys over here for official visits that weekend."

On the surface Bielema might have been a little vague with his description and talk of grayshirting a couple of players that have yet to join the program. Ask anybody that has followed recruiting over the past week, let alone the entire recruiting cycle, it's obvious that Brissett it far too strong a player to be gray shirted.

Bielema essentially said as much later during his press conference.

"I don't know about the specifics," Bielema said. "I've got two more opportunities to get someone in here. One of those would be a quarterback. The gray shirting guys are Eric Steffes because he's going to go through his double procedure with his shoulder and one of those guys that are still out there would be in the same type of situation."

When asked if the quarterback would be one that wouldn't need to be grayshirted, Bielema became even clearer.

"Correct," he said. "That's as specific non-specific as I can get."

So far, UW has two quarterbacks coming in as part of the 2011 recruiting class and neither are scholarship players. Joel Stave, a 6-foot-5 prospect out of Whitnall (WI) high school is the more lauded of the two. Lance Baretz, though listed as a quarterback, could assume a similar role as Jared Abbrederis based on his sheer athleticism and speed.

Stave, though not a scholarship player yet, seems to have all the tools necessary to succeed at the position. Having enrolled early, the extra round of spring camp should help his progression.

"We had Joel in camp," UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. "I think he's a good player. I had a chance to go out and see him this fall. I think he fits this place. Like all guys, I think they come in and work and have an opportunity to grow. But we're glad he's in the program. I think it's a real advantage that he's here now. I don't think I really realized that until we had Joe Brennan in last year because Jon Budmayr and Curt Phillips had come in early. Then you realize that this is the start of the year.

"It used to be where fall camp kind of kicked off the start of the year, but there is a lot of learning and hopefully teaching that goes on during that time. I think it's neat for Joel to be able to come in."

Because the Badgers have a number of guys already in the system, namely young players in Budmayr, Brennan and Phillips, it seems as though the Badgers coaching staff set their sights high on the position with a back up plan in place.

That doesn't seem to worry Bielema, though.

"I think it's getting the right quarterback," Bielema said. "I could assure you that one of those two spots left out there might be one of those kind of guys. We also have a young man in Joel Stave that's a non-scholarship player for us right now that we really felt good about. He was in contention and had scholarship offers from other places, but he really felt good about coming here."

Though Brissett - should he chose Wisconsin over Miami - would be a huge get, he wouldn't necessarily walk onto campus with the starting job in hand. That's simply not the way Bielema and his staff likes to operate.

"I've never had to recruit a kid that we felt had to be able to come in and be a starter. I don't think that's the need right now at that position. Again, I've really kind of stuck with the philosophy at the running back and quarterback position. I really don't want to sign more than one in a class unless your numbers get off.

"For the most part we like to stay true."


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