On the Back Burner

Once in line to compete with Tyler Donovan for the 2007 starting job, sophomore quarterback Dustin Sherer, and his skills, have to wait at least another year.

MADISON – Until the beginning of the 2006 season, quarterback Dustin Sherer had his sights on running out of the tunnel for the season opener as Wisconsin's starting quarterback. After competing admirably in spring ball, Sherer, from his standpoint, had put himself in position to make that dream come true.

Unfortunately, that dream stayed a dream.

Unhappy with the situation at Kansas State, quarterback Allan Evridge transferred to Wisconsin, looking for a fresh start, a new opportunity and a bigger stage to showcase his skills. All of a sudden, Sherer went from the potential starter for the 2007 season to the third-string quarterback in a matter of moments.

"I came [into Wisconsin] and I did well to put myself in position to play, but then Allan came in and set me back," Sherer said. "That's life I guess and that's life in the NCAA football world."

Such is the understated fact that as fun as college football seems from the outside, there are plenty of hardships buried underneath. Once one on the top 15 quarterbacks in the nation and one of the top five players in Indiana, Sherer was an Indiana ‘Mr. Football finalist' after compiling a 33-7 record at Arcadia Hamilton Heights High School. A four-time team MVP, Sherer picked Wisconsin over Big Ten schools Illinois, Iowa and Michigan.

Now, with all the success he achieved in the past, Sherer sits two-deep on the bench, discouraged that his name was not being thrown into the quarterback mix.

"It's going to frustrate anyone who's competing for a job," Sherer said. "It's just something you deal with. In high school, we were all all-stars and then when you come to college, you have to wait your turn again. I guess I am OK with that. I just want to be able to compete and get that opportunity. Hopefully, it will come soon."

According to the coaching staff, Sherer's opportunity, in reality, isn't that far away.

After playing in only two games last year – playing late against Indiana and Buffalo – and failing to complete a pass, Sherer came into fall camp determined, determined to prove his abilities to his coaching staff and, more importantly, to himself.

"[This fall camp] was all about opportunities and Allan and TD got that opportunity," Sherer said. "Allan and TD have more experience than I do, as I have only played in a couple minutes of one. But you know, I felt that I was doing really [well]. I felt that I showed that I can compete."

After admittedly struggling when Evridge arrived, Sherer has improved with every passing camp. In the 2007 Spring Game, Sherer looked extremely poised at quarterback, completing 7-of-16 passes for 94 yards. Despite being forced to miss a week because of an ankle sprain, Sherer was solid each day he practiced, making pristine reads and looked more comfortable taking first-team reps than he had in the past.

"The biggest thing is you want guys to get better and [Dustin] has gotten better," offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. "He's more relaxed with what we're doing. When he gets his opportunity, whenever it comes, he'll be more than prepared to handle it. He's got some physical skills that are pretty good."

Even though he's not taking the snaps, Sherer is still making all the signals.

Wherever the game and whatever the situation, Sherer always can be found on the Wisconsin sideline with a headset on, talking directly with Chryst, who sits up in the booth on Badger gamedays. Once Chryst relays the play call to Sherer, the sophomore quarterback signals the play into Donovan using a variety of hand signals. Sherer has, arguably, the most underrated role on the team.

"My role is actually pretty big," Sherer said. "Last year, I was in charge of all the live signals. I am talking with Coach Chryst into the microphone and he's telling me what to tell Tyler and the offense. I am going to be more of a coach this year, which is kinda cool. I have a big role because if I mess up on a signal, then Tyler gets wrong, screws everybody up and I'm in big trouble."

To say Sherer isn't looking ahead to the future would be nonsense. Sherer is as fierce a competitor as Donovan or Evridge, but the sophomore quarterback is looking forward to helping coach the fifth-year senior. Even so, when he lines up under center in the spring, Sherer expects to give Evridge the battle of his life.

"Obviously, I look down the line to [motivate me] to be competitive and compete because I want to be the starter," Sherer said. "Allan and I will battle it out next year and the best one will get the spot. Hopefully, for my part, that's me. All of the quarterbacks are really close and we know that, in the end, only one of get [the job] and we have to deal with it."

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