Aug. 4, 2011
In the third installment of a three-part series on the quarterbacks vying for UW's staring job during fall camp, Mike Lucas sits down for an exclusive interview with junior QB Jon Budmayr.
Tuesday, Aug. 2: Chryst | Wednesday, Aug. 3: Wilson | Thursday, Aug. 4: Budmayr
BY MIKE LUCAS
MADISON, Wis. -- Jon Budmayr has heard from people who wonder about his status in the UW quarterback rotation with the arrival of Russell Wilson. That was not unexpected.
Although Budmayr took over as the starting QB in the spring, he's an unproven redshirt sophomore; whereas Wilson is a fifth-year senior and proven three-year starter at NC State.
While conceding Wilson's transfer has resulted in some questions and a "little more difficult conversations with people on the outside" he appreciates the interest and support.
If nothing else, Budmayr has learned that "people do care and want the best" for him.
"But you have to be perfectly honest with them, too, when you talk to them," he said. "And I tell them, `This is good not only for my growth but for our team, and the team comes first.'"
Truth is, Budmayr feels good about everything; especially his readiness for the 2011 season.
"There's nothing really to get frustrated about," he said. "This is just another opportunity to compete and get better. Like my dad has always told me, `Take one snap at time.' This is no different."
Were there any awkward moments for Budmayr when Wilson joined the team?
"Not so much," he said. "We're both pretty mature guys and understand the situation. There's really nothing to be awkward about. Another guy is joining our team; a good guy, a good hard-worker."
Citing the value of competition, Budmayr said Wilson's presence on the depth chart is "going to make us a better team and it's going to make each one of the quarterbacks better, too."
Budmayr understands that one of the roles that he will be playing during training camp is to supply Wilson with any information that might help ease Wilson's transition to the UW offense.
That comes with the turf, Budmayr acknowledged, that comes with being on a team.
"He's a teammate now," he said. "And I really think he's a good fit for our program. He seems like a high-character guy. And that's exactly what we like to bring into Wisconsin."
Regardless of anyone's perception of the competition, Budmayr said of Wilson, "We'll work together. In my mind, there's one goal and that's to win and make our team successful.
"And I'm going to do everything that I can to make that happen."
UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst fully expected this type of reaction from Budmayr.
But it worked both ways; Budmayr knew that Chryst would look out for him, too.
"Coach Chryst has been honest throughout the whole process," Budmayr said. "He's been upfront with everything. That didn't surprise me. That's the way he has been since I got on campus.
"The biggest thing that he has always stressed is communication. The first thing I remember is Coach Chryst giving me a call and telling me the situation; he laid it out right in front of me."
Hearing the news of Wilson's recruitment, what was Budmayr's response?
"It didn't change my mindset at all. When you really get down to it, the competition is with yourself. That's the approach I've taken, so it didn't change any of my preparation heading into camp."
Budmayr and Wilson have taken part in summer conditioning drills and unsupervised throwing workouts. But it has been a small window. As new teammates, they're still in the discovery phase.
"The more we work with each other, the more we'll get to know each other," Budmayr said. "He seems like a good guy. I know that I'm kind of quiet and more reserved. That's just my personality.''
What has been Wilson's first impression of Budmayr?
"Great kid; he loves football and that's a positive thing," Wilson said.
They may have more in common than they know.
"I am a baseball fan," said Budmayr, a Woodstock, Ill., native, who played third base on his high school team at Marian Central Catholic.
Wilson, an infielder and fourth-round draft choice of the Colorado Rockies, left his minor league baseball team to use his final year of eligibility in college football.
"From just being around him this summer and working out with him," Budmayr said, "you can tell that he's a very talented, athletic kid. He throws it well."
Is Budmayr convinced that there will be an open competition at quarterback -- as UW coach Bret Bielema and Chryst have stated -- when the Badgers open practice Friday afternoon?
"Oh, definitely," he said. "In my mind, this is a great opportunity for me and I'm as prepared and as confident as I could be going into this.
"Strength-wise, I feel like I'm in the best shape that I've ever been. I feel great throwing the ball. It's paid off a lot -- making little gains in the weight room and getting up to the film room and studying."
Despite struggling at times during the spring, Budmayr feels like he has made positive strides.
"A big part of it comes in the film room," he said. "Sometimes you sit back and think, `Why did you do that?' Or, `What were you thinking?' But you work off those things and build on it.
"My biggest priority this summer was getting our playbook down and understanding it inside and out. And then I moved on to opponents (on the schedule) and started to get a feel for them."
Now he's hoping to pull it all together on the field.
"I'm ready to go," Budmayr said. "You put in the time in the weight room and summer conditioning and now it's time to actually go out and play football.
"I've set my goals and I know what I want to accomplish, and I'm taking that into fall camp."
Pressure? Not really. He's taking the stance that he can handle anything that's thrown at him.
After all, everyone in Budmayr's family roots for the Chicago Cubs.
"And I'm a White Sox fan," he said, grinning.
Now that's pressure.