Back up ready when called upon

Jon Budmayr got his first taste of college football when he entered during the second half of Saturday's 70-3 win over Austin Peay. He completed 6-of-7 passes for 55 yards in the second half.

MADISON – Luck hasn't been on Jon Budmayr's side recently.

A rash of injuries have kept Wisconsin's redshirt freshman quarterback out of action the past couple years, dating back to even his high school days.

But nothing would prevent Budmayr from getting the call Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium.

With the Badgers in cruise control against lowly Austin Peay at halftime, a finally healthy Budmayr stepped into a game for the first time in more than two years and proved to everyone he's no slouch.

"It felt great (to) just get out there and be on the field again in a game situation," Budmayr said. "I haven't been on the field in that situation since senior year in high school. To get out there and do well and have success, it was fun."

Budmayr, who was heavily recruited out of Marion Central (Ill.) High School, completed six of seven pass attempts for 55 yards and led the team on three long touchdown-scoring drives over an entire half of action in his Wisconsin debut.

"Jon has been pretty steady, in the recruiting process, now he's been here for a couple years," Badgers head coach Bret Bielema said. "He's just got that calmness to him that a quarterback needs to have.

"It does make you feel better to see him handle the snaps and handle the line of scrimmage the way he did."

Budmayr has encountered numerous injuries in recent years. Coming off a successful junior season at Marion Central that earned him first-team all-state honors, Budmayr saw his senior year end in a flash when he was knocked out for the year in the first quarter of the team's opener after sustaining a shoulder injury.

He then decided to enroll early at Wisconsin for the spring 2009 semester, but a hamstring injury limited him during camp. Budmayr also got the chance to compete for the starting quarterback role in fall camp with incumbent Dustin Sherer, Curt Phillips and current starter Scott Tolzien, but an arm injury knocked him out of the running and forced him to redshirt.

Ironically, it was an injury to Phillips that vaulted Budmayr into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart this season. After Phillips suffered an ACL tear in his right knee during the spring, Budmayr got the chance to serve as Tolzien's backup.

With a pair of nonconference games against non-BCS schools to start the season, Budmayr hoped the Badgers would get a comfortable lead so he could see time on the field. But a slow start against UNLV and an unimpressive showing against San Jose State forced the coaching staff to keep Tolzien in for the duration of the games.

"There was the UNLV game, I thought maybe if we pulled away there was a chance (for me to get in), and then San Jose State, the plan was kind of to get in a little bit if the opportunity presented itself," Budmayr said. "You've just got to be patient, and the opportunity came (Saturday)."

The true test for Budmayr's durability came early in the fourth quarter. After he completed each of his first six pass attempts, Budmayr was rushed out of the pocket on a third-and-long play and took a heavy blow from a Governors defender as he threw the ball away.

But Budmayr quickly popped up from the ground, knowing he was at last back to full strength.

"Awesome," said Budmayr of how it felt to take a hit. "I probably should have thrown the ball away a little sooner. I bet you my dad will say the same thing. I haven't been hit since my senior year in high school."

Budmayr dusted himself off after the hit and went on to lead Wisconsin on an eight-play, 50-yard drive that gave the Badgers their final score of the day.

"That's part of the game," said Budmayr of contact. "That's football. You get up and you keep going. Maybe I'll learn from that."

Budmayr's strong effort left many, including Tolzien, feeling assured he could perform well if needed in conference play.

"First and foremost, hopefully it gives Jon confidence that he can step in and do this thing, because he can, and he's proven that time and time again on the practice field," Tolzien said. "I think he has built up just a confidence level with everyone around him that he can make plays too."


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