Jon Budmayr's third spring practice at Wisconsin began with a distinctively different feeling from the previous two.
The Badgers quarterback no longer is looking up at a teammate on the depth chart. A starting job is open, and Budmayr, the backup to Scott Tolzien in 2010, is the front-runner to earn it. Before Wisconsin's first spring workout Tuesday, Budmayr received a shoutout from high school teammate Bryan Bulaga, the Green Bay Packers tackle and former Iowa star, who tweeted: "Badger fans watch out this spring for your QB and my good friend and former high school QB Jon Budmayr."
This is Budmayr's time to take charge.
"That's the situation, and you can't look aside from that," the redshirt sophomore said. "But my approach is the same as it's been the previous two springs: to come in, get better each day and really become more consistent. Although there is a competition, my mindset is the competition lies within yourself."
Budmayr set out to better himself in the offseason, starting with his size, or lack thereof. The 6-footer added 10 pounds during the winter, bringing him north of 200. When not in weight room, he studied film or worked on routes with receivers.
Although Budmayr lacks game experience -- he completed 8 of 10 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown in three games last season -- he knows how to prepare after working behind Tolzien, a stickler for detail.
"Being with Scott, I learned just how well preparation can pay off for you," Budmayr said. "He was a guy who spent countless hours getting ready for the games. That's the biggest thing I took away from him, preparing yourself, being ready when you do go out there."
Tolzien was a perfect fit for Wisconsin's offense -- great decision-maker, high completion percentage, few mistakes -- and while the Badgers would love to see more of the same from their quarterback in 2011, Budmayr notes that he's different from his predecessor.
"I'll take a few more shots, a few more chances," Budmayr said. "But neither way is right or wrong. Scott proved that here. One of the things I want to learn -- not change my game, I'm still going to take shots when the opportunity presents itself, but at the same time, be smart with it. Scott knew when the time was right to take a shot and when it was OK to hit a check-down."
"My experience is beneficial," Budmayr said, "but I've got to make the most of each day and get better."