Wisconsin Adds Transfer Quarterback for 2009

After freshman James Stallons decided to transfer from the program, Wisconsin found itself short a quarterback heading into the 2009 season. Heading into their summer workout program, the Badgers are back to full strength. In a Badger Nation exclusive, we sit down with UW's newest signal caller.

MADISON - Sitting down after a frustrating spring practice schedule, Central Florida quarterback Nate Tice didn't like his odds. Not seeing the potential or the ability to be able to contribute in a timely fashion, Tice, son of former Minnesota Viking head coach and current Jacksonville Jaguars tight end coach Mike Tice, decided to transfer from the program and reopen his recruitment, a process he never really got a chance to go through his first time.

After a whirlwind year of junior college, official visits and important decision, Tice felt that the opportunity to come to Wisconsin and have the chance to compete right away for playing time was too much to pass up, as the former Edina quarterback will walk-on to Wisconsin with three years of eligibility remaining.

Between moving across the country and unpacking moving boxes, Tice gave Badger Nation his first interview since officially becoming a member of the Wisconsin Badgers.

Badger Nation: Before we get into the x's and o's, how was the move to Madison?

Nate Tice: It was an ordeal (laughing). I had some stuff in storage in Jacksonville and we drove up from Jacksonville through Madison to my sister's place in St. Paul. We had some of my stuff and some of her stuff in a U-Haul. So we had my mom move some stuff to here, but I had to unpack everything and had to come back a week later to finish grabbing things and decorating. It was quite the moving process, especially with the road construction and having to drive through lanes that are no bigger than me.

Badger Nation: That's the official welcome sign to Wisconsin – road construction. Anyway, you decided to transfer last August from Central Florida because you wanted to compete for more playing time. Why did it take so long for you to pick a school?

Tice: When I left UCF, I decided to go to a community college in Jacksonville, just to get everything aligned and figure out what I wanted to do. I was supposed to be transferring after semester to a FCS school so I wouldn't have to sit out and I wouldn't have to miss that much time, just a semester off. The NCAA told me about halfway through the semester that I couldn't drop my classes, that I had to fulfill my requirements for my two-year degree to be able to transfer. I would have to wait two semesters and take three/four classes that I didn't know that I had to take, that I could have taken first semester but I had to take second semester and be there the whole year.

After talking to them, if I transferred to a Division 1 school, I wouldn't have to sit out right away. Well, at least that was good because I was technically at a junior college. So, I sent my tape out of my spring practices at Central Florida to Wisconsin and Iowa, just more to see what they saw and I told them if they wanted me as a walk on to call me.

They both called me back within a week. Iowa told me that they were pretty set at quarterback and that I probably wouldn't play. Wisconsin called me a couple days after that and wanted me to come on a visit and were very positive of the whole thing. They were excited and they got me real excited. It's always nice to be back in the Midwest. I grew up in Minnesota, so it's only four hours away, and I always liked Wisconsin.

Badger Nation: What kind of numbers did you put up for your high school team? Did you put up numbers comparable to some of the top quarterbacks in the nation or did you slip under the radar?

Tice: We primarily ran the shotgun spread offense at Edina, but we were very balanced. I threw the ball about 160 times my senior year and averaged about 18 throws a game. I wasn't an All-American or anything, but I threw for about 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns and made first-team all-conference and made a second-team all-state. I had about a 65 percent completion percentage with a bunch of short throws in there. It wasn't like a Texas Tech spread offense. We were very balanced – running the ball about 25 times a game and throwing the ball 20 times a game. I really didn't have a huge numbers and was hurt during my junior year, so it didn't help recruiting.

I went to a NIKE camp in Gainesville (Fl.) and that really got me onto a lot of recruiters. Central Florida was the first school to offer and other schools like Colorado, Oklahoma State, Minnesota and Purdue showed interest, but dropped off once I committed. I committed in July going into my senior year, and I was done. I only took one official visit and that was to UCF.

Badger Nation: Since you only took one official visit, what was it like going through the recruiting process again? Was it humbling that these big schools wanted you when you didn't get that the first time?

Tice: Going through it the first time, getting the offer and getting a lot of schools that showed a decent interest was nice, but there was no guarantee that I would get an offer. It made me wonder if I would have waited and taken more visits if I would have gotten an offer.

Going through it this time around, when I was looking I-AA schools, I had about six teams call me. I sent my tape out to eight teams and I got six calls pretty quick. I took a couple official visits and a couple unofficial visits and I really liked the opportunity to see some other schools. I feel like my senior year if I would have taken some officials that it would have opened my eyes to other schools. I took an official to UCF and I thought that is what every school did. Now, I saw that every school is different and unique.

Badger Nation: What schools did you really take the time to look at and consider before you ultimately decided to walk on at Wisconsin?

Tice: The schools it came down to were Northern Iowa, Gardner Webb, Montana and South Dakota State. There were a lot of other schools that showed interest that I didn't take visits to.

Badger Nation: What about Wisconsin sealed the deal for you? Was it the relationship with Bret Bielema, with Paul Chryst, was it the fact that the quarterback position has been a question mark at UW the past couple of years and you knew that you could come in and compete?

Tice: It was pretty much everything you just said right there. The coaches have all been terrific. Coach Chryst, Coach Bielema, Coach McCray. All have been terrific and I couldn't ask for anything better. The whole quarterback situation is perfect. It's not like there is going to be a four-year starter. Every year there is going to be a competition. If I play very good, I have a chance, and all I want is a chance. The tradition of playing in the Big Ten and playing for the chance at a Rose Bowl is overwhelming.

Badger Nation: Have you had a chance to talk to the four quarterbacks yet and have you been accepted into the quarterback fraternity?

Tice: So far, they all are kind of feeling me out in a way. I think they are all waiting to see because I can't start working out with them until next week. I think they are waiting to see what I can do, because I feel like an outsider in a way since I haven't been able to do much with them. They are all very nice guys. I have talked to them all and they are a very close group that will hopefully accept me once we get going.

Badger Nation: You mention what all excites you about the Wisconsin program, but what excites you about the next couple of weeks? You've been away from Division 1 football for a couple months and the routine. Is it just playing football again and playing football at a high level?

Tice: Exactly. Heading to the Big Ten is a big challenge there. The big thing is getting back to practice, learning an offense and all those little things. It's so weird that the stuff you hated everyday like practices and workouts is the stuff you miss the most. You miss the early morning meetings, the team lifting and all the tortuous stuff. People might think I am crazy to be excited to do all that stuff again, but I really am.

Badger Nation: Lastly, your dad has had a great career as a coach and doing different things. How excited is he for you to get this chance and being able to watch you on national television? Was he involved in your process or did he stay behind the scenes as a supportive father?

Tice: He let it all up to me, but he helped some. When I was looking at I-AA schools, he would ask his coaches about the schools and what was real good schools to look at and people to talk to. He was the one that really got me started, but he left it all up to me when he I was talking to coaches or taking visits. He was being more supportive, like a dad. He wasn't calling coaches everyday, but he was encouraging me to call people and find out what was going on. He was just guiding me and making sure I did things the right way.

Once I told him that I wanted to be a Badger, he was so excited that he wanted me to get him a Wisconsin hat. He wears that every time he plays golf, so he is real excited.

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