Curt Phillips

Badger QB Tanner McEvoy victim of a mugging

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Don’t worry, Tanner McEvoy; Montee Ball can more than likely — and literally — feel your Madison pain.

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Wisconsin quarterback was the victim of what police have described as a strong-armed mugging early Sunday morning.  McEvoy’s wallet, watch and iPhone were stolen during the attack.

McEvoy suffered minor injuries, which included cuts to his head.

There was no word on any type of arrest being made.

“First and foremost we are happy that Tanner is physically ok after this attack,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “It’s terrible to get a call about something like this but we are grateful the injuries were not serious.”

The even better news is that McEvoy participated in voluntary summer workouts Monday.

In early August of last year, South Carolina announced that McEvoy had decided to transfer from the Gamecocks.  The announcement came a week or so after the player was arrested on alcohol-related charges.

After spending the 2012 season at the JUCO level, McEvoy signed with Wisconsin this past February.  McEvoy will compete with Joel Stave and Curt Phillips for the Badgers’ starting job, although he’s considered a longshot entering summer camp.

Wisconsin starts summer camp in exactly 14 days.  Last year, a week before the start of camp, star running back Montee Ball was attacked by five men in what was described as an unprovoked assault in Madison.  The All-American suffered a concussion and facial injuries in the attack, forcing him to sit out the start of camp.

(Photo credit: Wisconsin athletics)

Updated: Danny O’Brien leaving Wisconsin

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It would appear Danny O’Brien‘s career at Wisconsin will be short-lived.

The former Maryland quarterback, who transferred to the Badgers a little over a year ago, has reportedly left the program with his football future very much in doubt. O’Brien’s high school coach, Todd Willert, confirmed his former QB’s departure to Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel also reported the departure, and O’Brien later confirmed he was leaving to the Baltimore Sun.

“I just got my release,” O’Brien said. “Coach [Gary] Andersen has been awesome helping out.”

O’Brien’s college career has been a ride, to be sure. He started hot by earning ACC Rookie of the Year honors as a redshirt freshman for the Terps in 2010. However, O’Brien struggled in Randy Edsall‘s first season with Maryland in 2011 and was eventually benched in favor of C.J. Brown. O’Brien then transferred from Maryland after the 2011 season and was named Wisconsin’s starting QB just before the start of the 2012 season. But, again, inconsistency early on led to O’Brien being replaced by Joel Stave. Exiting spring practices, O’Brien found himself buried in the depth chart behind Stave and Curt Phillips. O’Brien attempted just three passes in the Badgers’ spring game.

O’Brien would finish his one-year career in Madison with 523 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception. He will have one year of eligibility remaining should he transfer again to play under his fourth different coach in as many years.

Big Ten spring game wrap-ups

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Some news, notes, quotes and other assorted tidbits from the three spring games contested across the Big Ten Saturday afternoon…

MICHIGAN STATE
To say that the Spartans’ quarterbacks struggled somewhat during today’s spring game would be an understatement of mammoth proportions.

MSU quarterbacks combined to go 22 of 53 for 386 yards, two touchdown and two interceptions.  Last year’s starter and presumptive front-runner for the job this season, Andrew Maxwell, completed just nine of his 20 attempts for 120 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass.  The strong-armed Connor Cook, who has gained some ground on Maxwell this spring, threw for 217 yards and a scoring toss but also completed less than 40 percent of his passes (10-26).  Redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor completed five of six passes — three to his offensive teammates, two to his defensive teammates.

All in all, it was rough outing at a position where the Spartans may have more questions exiting spring than they did entering it.

Head coach Mark Dantonio said that the incumbent would top the depth chart entering summer, but stopped short of anointing him as the season-opening starter.

“I think you leave here at the end of spring saying that (Andrew) Maxwell comes into the summer camp number one based on knowledge and consistency in terms of performance.”

For his part, Maxwell feels as if he’s done enough to retain the job.

“I feel like I’ve done everything that I could do to make my case to the coaches to be the guy, and I feel like every day I came out and got better,” the player said. “I took a competitive mindset to every practice, and the ultimate decision is with Coach D.”

— The Spartans’ defense accounted for two touchdowns in the Green team’s 24-17 win over the White squad: a Chris Laneaux 25-yard interception return and a fumble recovery by Kyler Elsworth that was returned 41 yards.  On the other side of the ball, Aaron Burbridge caught five passes for 113 yards.

— Former MSU quarterback great Kirk Cousins, now Robert Griffin III‘s backup in Washington, returned to the East Lansing campus as color analyst for the Big Ten Network’s coverage of the game.  Based on Cousins’ comments, it doesn’t appear this will be his last rodeo in the booth.

“I want the football thing to last as long as it possibly can, but at the same time, in the offseason it makes a lot of sense to pursue other opportunities and prepare yourself for whenever football ends,” Cousins said. “And that’s why I’m here today, and it’s just a bonus I get to be back in familiar territory, watching the team that I love.”

— One of the coolest parts of the Spartans’ spring game was their helmets.  Specifically, the stickers on the back of the helmets honoring those who were killed or injured by the bombings at last Monday’s Boston Marathon.  Very classy gesture:

Michigan State Helmets

PENN STATE
If you were an individual looking for some clarity at the quarterback position coming out of the Nittany Lions’ spring game, you are likely somewhat disappointed at this point in time.

Following the game, head coach Bill O’Brien stated very firmly that neither Steven Bench nor Tyler Ferguson (pictured) had grabbed hold of the starting job and the competition would continue into the “voluntary” workouts and on into summer camp.  Both players completed nine of 15 passes, with Bench throwing for 99 yards and Ferguson 90.  Ferguson tossed two touchdown passes to Bench’s one.

As has been the case for most of the spring, the second-year coach was, for the most part, pleased with the duo’s performance.

“I thought they both (Bench and Ferguson) produced,” O’Brien said. “I thought both had some nice throws. Like everybody, coaches and players included, in every game you play, you wish you had some plays back. I’m sure they do too. I thought they both did some decent things out there today.”

In his post-game talk with reporters, O’Brien made it perfectly clear where the competition stands.

“I’d say, no, I’m not any closer as I sit here right now,” the coach said when asked about naming a starter. “Eventually, I’ll have to make a decision.”

O’Brien added that he will now go back and look at all of the spring practice tapes as they work toward naming a starter at the position.

The real competition, though, won’t begin until August; Christian Hackenberg, a five-star 2013 recruit rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in this year’s class, will join the competition this summer, with most expecting the Virginia product to make a very serious run at the starting job as a true freshman.

— In front of 28,000 or so fans who braved the rain and snow and cold, the the Blue team (defense) dropped the White squad (offense), 67-47.  It was the second straight year the defense has “won” the spring game.

A big reason for the defensive win?  The Nittany Lions’ defense accounted for nine sacks, which counted four points apiece in the scoring system utilized by O’Brien.

— Youth was certainly served for the Nittany Lions as the school noted that all six players who ran, caught or threw a touchdown will be a freshman or sophomore this season.  Both of the front-runners for the starting QB job will be sophomores.

— Another of the young ones was running back Akeel Lynch, who led all rushers with 83 yards on his 13 carries.

— “I feel terrible because I love that city,” O’Brien said of the tragic events in Boston this past week. “I grew up 20 minutes north of that city and my brother Tommy is heavily involved in that city and so is my older brother and my dad and my mom so I feel terrible for them. … Boston is a very resilient city and we caught him last night so that was good.”

WISCONSIN
At the end of Gary Andersen‘s first spring as the Badgers’ head coach, and in the midst of a crowded quarterback competition, it was UW’s defense winning most of the plaudits in Madison Saturday afternoon.

Thanks to the “unique” scoring systems that are all the rage during spring games, the final score appears to be a high-scoring offensive affair: Cardinal 61, White 47.  The former team consisted of the Badgers’ defense, the latter the offense.

The game wasn’t a true measure of either unit, however, as Andersen lamented afterwards that “[w]e’re basically missing six starters right now on the defensive side that didn’t play a snap today, and four or five on the offensive side.”

Also, the fact that the game was televised on the Big Ten Network led Andersen to keep his team’s cards very close to his vest.

“I will say this: Defense today was very vanilla. Offensively, we were very generic, and defensively, we were very generic,” the former Utah State head coach said. “We did throw the ball, bottom line, and we did catch the ball better than we have all spring, and that was very encouraging.”

— The Cardinal team totaled 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks in the game.  As those plays were worth two points apiece, the defense scored 36 of its 61 points off those two types of plays.  They also earned 24 points off of eight three-and-outs.

— As far as the quarterback battle goes, two players, Joel Stave and Curt Phillips, received the vast majority of the reps.  Stave completed 15 of his 20 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, while Phillips went 8-of-13 for 82 yards.  The other quarterbacks on the roster, including former Maryland Terrapin Danny O’Brien, attempted just three passes each.

— Running back Melvin Gordon, who will be charged with the task of replacing Montee Ball, ran for a team-high 74 yards and scored the game’s only touchdown on the ground.  He also added three catches for 35 yards.

— “Yeah, we’re in a good spot,” Andersen said when asked if his team is where he thought it’d be at the end of the spring.  “You’re never going to get everything you want. You’re never going to have it perfect. We wanted consistency. I think we got that. We wanted effort. I think we got that.”

Monday morning one-liners

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Meandering our way through the offseason, a single one-liner at a time…

al.com: a healthier, stronger, older AJ McCarron (pictured) reflects on a productive offseason (kinda like he did HERE).

— Coming off an unexpectedly remarkable first year at Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze says he’ll “be the first to warn that the little success we’ve had can also be an enemy.”

— Speaking of encores, Todd Graham must come up with a successful one at Arizona State.

— Utah will feel the need for offensive speed under new coordinator Dennis Erickson.

— Tennessee’s Butch Jones has “a method to the madness.”

— As one of 487 quarterbacks fighting for the starting job at Wisconsin, ninth-year senior Curt Phillipstypifies what you love about college football.”

— Fullback Trey Millard has zero regrets in returning to Oklahoma for another season.

— Michigan State’s man of ever-switching positions, Jeremy Langford, is looking to settle in and be productive at running back.

— First-year Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell is “comfortable with where their minds are, where their heads are and their willingness to want to learn and go hard” heading into the spring.

— Penn State returns three starters in the secondary, but questions still remain.

Ex-Gamecocks QB commits to Badgers

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After spending a year at the JUCO level, Tanner McEvoy is headed back to the FBS ranks to play for a school well-versed in the ways of the transfer quarterback.

In a move that’s been expected, McEvoy confirmed to 247Sports.com that he has verbally committed to play for Wisconsin.  The quarterback stated that his relationship with new head coach Gary Andersen and his staff, as well as the school itself, played a significant role in his decision.

“It just seemed like a great opportunity, great school, great program, and I’m just looking to come in and compete and see how it goes,” McEvoy told the recruiting website. “The school itself surprised me. I didn’t know how big the campus was and how big Madison was. There was just a lot of things. It all clicked and it seems like it’s going to be the best move”

McEvoy, the top-rated dual-threat JUCO quarterback in the country, opted for UW over, among others, Florida, Oregon and West Virginia.

In early August of last year, South Carolina announced that McEvoy had decided to transfer from the Gamecocks.  The announcement came a week or so after the player was arrested on alcohol-related charges.

McEvoy spent the 2012 season at Arizona Western College.

As McEvoy will be eligible to play in 2013, he will compete with Joel Stave, Curt Phillips and Danny O’Brien for the starting job.  After transferring from Maryland, O’Brien started the first three games of the 2012 season before giving way to Stave, who held the job until suffering a shoulder injury in late October.  Phillips, who was awarded a sixth season of eligibility last month, started the final five games of the season.

Thus far, McEvoy is the Badgers’ only quarterback verbal in their 2013 recruiting class.

(Photo credit: Bergen Catholic High School)