As a freshman in 2010, Danny O'Brien posted a 22-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio for Maryland and earned ACC Rookie of the Year and freshman All-American honors. As a senior in 2013, O'Brien will reportedly play for an obscure Division II team that has gone 3-8 and 4-7 the past two seasons.
It hasn't been the career path anyone -- O'Brien least of all, probably -- expected when he exploded onto the scene for the Terps three seasons ago. But his high school coach told FoxSportsWisconsin that O'Brien's latest move, from Wisconsin to D-II Catawba College, is for the best.
"He just wants to go and have some fun and play some football," Todd Willert said. "I think he's excited to play back in North Carolina so it's not so far away from everything. Family and friends and everybody can go watch him in his last year. I think he's looking forward to that."
Willert coached O'Brien at East Forsyth High School in Kernersville, NC, approximately 50 miles from Salisbury, NC, home of the Catawba Indians. Willert told FSW the Catawba staff was familiar with O'Brien from his high school days.
O'Brien "did not immediately respond to FOXSportsWisconsin.com's request for comment."
The fifth-year senior was expected to make a major impact as the Badgers starter in 2012, having transferred with immediate eligiblity after Randy Edsall's disastrous first season at Maryland. But O'Brien and his team struggled badly out of the gate, and he was replaced by Joel Stave at halftime of the Badgers' Week 3 comeback against Utah State.
After seemingly failing to make much headway in the spring, and with new Badgers head coach Gary Andersen bringing in an unfamiliar spread system, O'Brien left the Wisconsin program in June. The Catawba transfer will mean O'Brien will have played -- or, in Andersen's case, at least practiced -- for five head coaches in five seasons.
Can O'Brien recapture anything like his 2010 success? If so, the struggling Indians won't complain about the winding road that brought him back to his home state.