Sophomore quarterback Jon Budmayr has fielded so many questions about his well-being in the past month, he must have been tempted to check the obituaries, just to make sure his name wasn’t in there.
Since the University of Wisconsin football team landed transfer quarterback Russell Wilson, everybody wants to know how Budmayr is doing.
“It’s just kind of funny,” Budmayr said. “Not only is it out here, you go back home, you go different places and you’re getting questions from everybody, ‘You all right? You OK with everything?’ I’ve got to remind them, ‘I’m going to be good.’ ”
So, to clear the air:
“It’s an incredible opportunity for me,” Budmayr said of preseason camp. “My mind’s good. I’m ready to go. I’m excited to be out here and blessed to be healthy, to be able to compete, to be able to play. There’s nothing better than that.”
Some things have changed about Budmayr’s situation since Wilson’s arrival; others have not.
Budmayr was the presumptive starter coming out of spring practices until the Badgers reached out and made the effort to land Wilson, who was granted his release from North Carolina State.
Now, Budmayr is in a heated competition for a job few people on the outside expect him to win. Not that it will alter his approach. He still wants to win the starting job.
“That’s my goal,” he said. “From the outside looking in, yeah, the competition is between Jon and Russell and everybody says it. But in my opinion, it’s with yourself, it’s coming out and getting better and improving each day. If I can do that, I know the team will get better.”
UW offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Paul Chryst has never been in a situation such as this in his coaching career: adding a prominent quarterback — a former All-Atlantic Coast Conference first-team selection — a month before camp, for just one season. It could be a recipe for headaches.
“I think the thing that gives you belief that you’ve got a chance with this whole deal, I think the main characters are good people,” Chryst said.
“The common ground we reach, we want to individually be the best player you can possibly be and understand we’re part of a team — and also understanding what happens on the field is what matters. Then I think it’s all good.”
One reason Budmayr has handled it so well is he was kept informed.
“The only thing I wanted to make sure is (Budmayr) knew what was going on,” Chryst said. “With all of them, if you tell the truth of what’s happening ... what you tell Russell, you tell Jon. What you tell Jon, you tell Russell. Guys can handle it if they understand and believe the reasons are right and the way you go about it is right.”
Budmayr expected nothing less — and his relationship with Chryst is as strong as ever.
“Coach Chryst was up front and honest with me the whole time,” Budmayr said. “That wasn’t surprising because he’s been that way since Day One when I got on campus.”
Wilson credited all of the quarterbacks with helping smooth the transition process.
“They’ve been great, especially that first month I was here, in terms of throwing with the guys and getting to know some of the plays, the play-actions or the footwork,” Wilson said. “That way, I kind of kick-started into understanding what we’re trying to do as an offense.”
While Budmayr didn’t have his best performance in the spring game, the amount of hand-wringing it induced seemed excessive to some observers. Former UW quarterback Scott Tolzien was much worse as a junior in the 2009 spring game, prior to winning the starting job.
“Scotty said it best, ‘Boy, people have got a short memory,’ ” Chryst said.
Budmayr had a lot of good and bad in the spring — and he’s trying to use all of it to make himself better.
“I thought there was a lot of good learning,” Budmayr said. “Whether that comes from a good moment or a bad moment, any time you can learn, that’s a great moment.
“Yeah, there are things I did wrong, but if I can learn that in the spring, it’s going to pay off in August, and September through November. That was the biggest thing, I just tried to learn from everything.”