MADISON, Wis. — Danny O'Brien seems to have a knack for taking care of the ball and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is rewarding him for it.
Bielema has named the Maryland transfer his starting quarterback for Wisconsin's regular-season opener against Northern Iowa on Sept. 1.
The coach took to Twitter on Sunday night, saying that the junior earned the job ahead of senior Curt Phillips and redshirt freshman Joel Stave.
O'Brien said Monday that he felt confident in his ability to clinch the spot.
"I think I went into the competition with the mentality that I'm going to start and just kind of focus on myself," he said. "I didn't know when the (starter) was going to be named, and I just wanted to work every day. But I was happy to hear it, but now the work really starts and we've got to move forward."
O'Brien had two interceptions in a pair of seven-on-seven drills through three weeks of fall camp. That number, coupled with game experience in 17 starts at Maryland, pushed Bielema and assistant coaches in O'Brien's direction.
"The No. 1 thing probably, by far, (was) turnovers," Bielema said. "A lot of those guys were in double digits with turnovers with practice. And then I think just the presence he's shown since he's been here."
O'Brien announced his decision to transfer to Wisconsin in March and moved to Madison for summer workouts in June. He followed in the footsteps of Russell Wilson, a North Carolina State transfer who played last season for the Badgers. Wilson helped lead the team to an 11-3 record, the Big Ten Conference championship and a Rose Bowl appearance.
O'Brien, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, seeks to make an impact of his own.
"To be a part of this team is a privilege in itself, but to be named starting quarterback here was something I am proud of just because it's a lot of hard work," O'Brien said. "We have a great quarterback room. It was a really tough competition, a lot of talent in that room, which is awesome and something you want. I'm honored."
Bielema has been impressed with O'Brien's maturity and that he didn't try to "gain all this allegiance with certain player groups," in an effort to win the top job.
Bielema also likes the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder's tenacity and mobility to make plays in tough situations.
Penn State has picked up another addition to this season's freshman class. Linebacker Gary Wooten of Hialeah (Fla.) High School has committed, according to multiple websites, and is expected to be on campus this week for practice.
Wooten played his final season at Hialeah in 2010. He fell one core class short of graduating in 2011 and, even though he made up the class, decided to sit out last season.
Hialeah coach Marc Berman told the Nittany Nation website that he received a call last week from Penn State defensive coordinator Ted Roof inquiring about Wooten, whom Berman said is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds after playing at 6-2 and 190 in high school.
After the 2010 season, Wooten fielded offers from a number of schools, including Vanderbilt and Washington State, but was believed to be deciding between Eastern Michigan and Massachusetts. He did not, however, commit to any school.
Berman said Florida also had asked him recently about Wooten.
Earlier this month, Penn State received a commitment from 5-11, 220-pound linebacker Brennan Franklin of Peoria, Ariz., for this season's freshman class.
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer