[caption id="attachment_48" align="alignright" width="212" caption="Fifth year senior Curt Phillips will get his first career start at QB after tearing his right ACL three times. He hasn't played since the 2009 season."][/caption]
Fifth year senior Curt Phillips’ career as a Wisconsin Badger has not exactly gone according to the game plan.
However, after three torn ACL’s and almost five years of either waiting or recovering, Phillips will make his first start as a college quarterback this Saturday at Indiana, head coach Bret Bielema announced Thursday night.
Saturday’s game against the Hoosiers is a pivotal matchup that could decide who represents the Leaders division at the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis Dec. 1.
Coming out of Sullivan South High School in 2008, Phillips seemed to be well on his way to college stardom. Rivals rated him as the fourth-best player in Tennessee and the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the nation.
Phillips committed to the Badgers in the summer prior to his senior year, a season where he was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year throwing for 2,263 yards, running for 1,885 and scoring 57 total touchdowns.
After playing in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2009, he tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in March of 2010.
Then he tore it again. And again.
A gut-wrenching series of three right ACL tears caused Phillips to miss the entire 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Many players would elect to call it a career at that point and it would be difficult to blame them.
But Phillips stuck it out, rehabbed after each injury for an opportunity like the one he’s been presented with.
Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien fell short of expectations and found himself wearing a headset. Redshirt freshman Joe Stave stepped in and performed solidly, but broke his collar bone and found himself wearing a sling.
Phillips – who hasn’t played a down since the ’09 finale in Hawaii – is next up on Bielema’s quarterback carousel.
After Scott Tolzien and Russell Wilson led UW to back-to-back Big Ten titles and trips to the Rose Bowl, Phillips had become an afterthought.
Come Saturday, he’ll be in the biggest game of his short career.
The road to the Big Ten Championship doesn’t usually go through Bloomington – or ever, for that matter – but that will be the case Saturday when the 3-2 Badgers take on the 2-3 Hoosiers.
With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible, the winner of this game will have the edge in the division.
Each team will still have two contests left in the regular season after they meet, but UW has a decidedly more difficult schedule, closing the season against the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions. Indiana concludes with the undefeated Bucks and Purdue.
Phillips doesn’t possess the mobility he once did, but reports suggest he can still move around well enough to avoid the blitz and extend plays. He has always had an above average arm, but it remains to be seen if he’s lost any zip on his throws due to so many knee injuries (his right leg is his plant leg).
There’s an old saying that says bad things come in threes. If that’s the case, Phillips should finally be through with surgeries and crutches.
Now, it might be time for touchdowns and Big Ten victories.
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