With senior quarterback Scott Tolzien leading the Badgers under center for the second-straight year and the team needing to get backup freshman quarterback Jon Budmayr the needed reps, there have been very little opportunity for young throwers like Brennan to get work in team drills.
While hard for a competitor of his nature to admit, he wouldn't have it any other way, especially getting the chance to soak up the knowledge that Tolzien is giving.
"Scott is a guy that a great leader," Brennan said. "Before I came here, he gave me a call, giving me a heads up on what to expect and that he would be there to answer questions he has to ask. He's definitely a great leader and I feel lucky to be able to learn from Scott. He's got game experience and he's gone through a lot of adversity, which is what we do as players."
Brennan's verbal commitment proved to be a significant achievement for the Wisconsin program. Brennan, a three-star quarterback by Scout.com who passed for 1,842 yards and threw 18 touchdowns his senior year for Camden Catholic (NJ) High, was the Badgers' main and only real recruiting target at quarterback.
The more underlying fact is that when Brennan chose Wisconsin over Miami (FL) and Stanford, his other two finalists, he helped Wisconsin re-establish a recruiting foothold on the East Coast. Last recruiting cycle, UW received five verbal commitments from players on the East Coast, including Brennan's tight end Sherard Cadogan
"I think (Brennan) has the chance to get a lot better," said Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst, who recruited Brennan and Cadogan. "For where we are, I am exciting about the quarterback group. With Joe, I think he's an extremely talented guy that wants to be here and is eager to learn."
That eagerness has come in two forms for Brennan. With Tolzien, Budmayr and sophomore Curt Phillips get most of the reps in teams and 7-on-7 drills, Brennan treats every handoff and every throw in individual work as a game-like situation, only then to look in Chryst's direction for the needed feedback.
"He's been that same guy from the beginning," Brennan said of Chryst. "He's a very smart guy. He knows everything you need to know in order to be the commander of the offense. He's definitely going to prepare me to step on the field, and it's great to learn from a guy like that."
Although he's planning to utilize his redshirt season, Brennan has worked out under Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Herbert like his development was necessary in order for the team to be successful.
"He came right on to campus and attacked the weight room," Tolzien said. "If you didn't know better, you would say he was guy that was going to start and was preparing for the season."
Added Brennan: "My mom taught me to be self motivated so when I am working out, I am thinking about national competition. There's always someone out there working 10 times harder than me. I am just trying to go 100 percent all the way every time and take advantage of this opportunity."
Heading into the third week of fall camp, Brennan is slowly recognizing the defensive schemes and the basic offense, factoids that have come from him paging through the playbook on a daily basis. If he is lost, Brennan can turn to Cadogan, who has impressed the coaches so much that Head Coach Bret Bielema expects him to contribute in some capacity this season.
"Me and Sherard have a good connection," Brennan said. "After the first week of workouts, we would also meet up and talk about things. It's definitely good to have that friend and a guy you can trust. Sherard is a very close friend to me, kind of like a dad out here that you can go and talk to."
Having shown good zip on his spiral and more than willing to pay his dues, Brennan will stay behind the scenes for the time being. It's an unfamiliar stage for New Jersey's best signal caller last season, but something he's certainly excited about.
"Coach Chryst has emphasized to me learn, learn and learn, to soak up that knowledge and go out there and compete," Brennan said. "I love it. It's something I have never experienced before, coming out here and competing like this everyday. It's been fun meeting new guys, creating chemistry and making a new family."