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updated: 11/25/2010 6:33 PM

Ex-Fremd star Tolzien a proven winner at Wisconsin

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  • Scott Tolzien is 20-4 as a starting quarterback for Wisconsin since he won the job.

      Scott Tolzien is 20-4 as a starting quarterback for Wisconsin since he won the job.
    Associated Press

  • Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, a Rolling Meadows resident, has completed more than 73 percent of his passes this season.

      Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien, a Rolling Meadows resident, has completed more than 73 percent of his passes this season.
    Associated Press

  • Quarterback Scott Tolzien of Fremd High Schools will lead the Wisconsin Badgers against Northwestern on Saturday.

      Quarterback Scott Tolzien of Fremd High Schools will lead the Wisconsin Badgers against Northwestern on Saturday.
    Associated Press

  • He manages the game as well as anyone in the Big Ten, which is why Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien is playing for a Big Ten title on Saturday.

      He manages the game as well as anyone in the Big Ten, which is why Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien is playing for a Big Ten title on Saturday.
    Associated Press

  • Only a two-star recruit coming out of high school, Scott Tolzien is now a candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which goes to the nation's top senior quarterback.

      Only a two-star recruit coming out of high school, Scott Tolzien is now a candidate for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which goes to the nation's top senior quarterback.
    Associated Press

  • Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says quarterback Scott Tolzien is a winner on and off the field for the Badgers.

      Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema says quarterback Scott Tolzien is a winner on and off the field for the Badgers.
    Associated Press

  • With his seventh-ranked passer efficiency rating (163.04), Scott Tolzien has become one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

      With his seventh-ranked passer efficiency rating (163.04), Scott Tolzien has become one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
    Associated Press

  • Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien has Wisconsin in the running for its first BCS bowl bid since 1999.

      Badgers quarterback Scott Tolzien has Wisconsin in the running for its first BCS bowl bid since 1999.
    Associated Press

  • Once Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien earned the starting job, he kept it. The Fremd High School graduate has his team poised to win the Big Ten title this Saturday against Wisconsin.

      Once Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien earned the starting job, he kept it. The Fremd High School graduate has his team poised to win the Big Ten title this Saturday against Wisconsin.
    Associated Press

 

If you rank all of the Big Ten's starting quarterbacks by the number of recruiting stars attached to their Rivals.com profile, Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien would be tied for last.

When the 2006 Fremd High School graduate searched for a college, the Rivals.com evaluators pegged Tolzien as a two-star recruit.

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Of course, Tolzien and the Badgers are tied for first place heading into Saturday's regular-season finale against Northwestern.

How did the Rolling Meadows resident flip those rankings on their helmets?

After all, when Tolzien threw just 8 passes in his first years on Wisconsin's campus, the gurus looked prescient.

Then he rallied during the spring and summer of 2009 to overtake returning starter Dustin Sherer and fan favorite Curt Phillips to claim the starting job last fall.

"When there was a quarterback duel, everybody kept talking about Curt and Dustin and no one really talked about Scotty except for us," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "And he just survived camp and did a great job."

The rest, as they say, soon will become history.

If things go as the oddsmakers say Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, Tolzien will guide the Badgers to a win over Northwestern (2:30 p.m., Channel 7) and no worse than a share of the school's first Big Ten title since 1999.

Depending on how Michigan State and Ohio State fare in their games, Wisconsin can clinch its first BCS bowl bid since 1999.

Tolzien should remain the nation's leader in completion percentage setting the Big Ten single-season record along the way and boost his chances to win the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award that goes to the nation's best senior quarterback.

Tolzien learned this week that he made the final five for the Unitas, which since its inception in 1987 has been bestowed on five current NFL starters: Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, Matt Ryan and Colt McCoy.

While Tolzien awaits the final vote for the Unitas, he will have to settle for being the captain of the Daily Herald's all-area college team.

It's no small feat, seeing as how NFL scouts project Boston College senior left tackle Anthony Castonzo (Lake Zurich HS) as a Top 20 draft pick and that New Mexico junior linebacker Carmen Messina (Addison Trail HS) became the first Lobo since Brian Urlacher to deliver back-to-back 100-tackle seasons.

Tolzien earns the nod for his 73.9 percent completion rate, his seventh-ranked passer efficiency rating (163.04) and his most important numbers: He enters Saturday's regular-season finale with a 20-4 record as a starter.

"If there's one word to probably sum up Scotty, it's an easy way to say it, but he has an uncanny way of just being a winner in everything he does," Bielema said. "Everybody saw the Jaxson (Hinkens) piece, so that didn't have anything to do with trying to gain attention or anything. He did it because he wanted to be a winner with Jaxson."

Tolzien became buddies with Hinkens last year as the 7-year-old battled Stage 4 neuroblastoma cancer, and the friendship was chronicled in newspapers across the country, including this one.

Hinkens, scheduled to finish his last treatment this week, and Tolzien appeared in an affecting ESPN College GameDay story last month.

"(Scotty) wanted to be a winner on the football field," Bielema continued. "He's already taken care of the academic world. I can't tell you how many e-mails I get where he took a minute to stop and talk to somebody or he went and visited somebody or he wrote somebody a note. He's priceless in that regards."

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald doesn't know Tolzien's off-field exploits as well as he knows the fifth-year senior he sees on videotape.

"A lot of similarities to the other guys that we've seen; some of the elite quarterbacks in this league," Fitzgerald said. "There's no question Scotty's right up there. Similar scheme somewhat to what Iowa does from a standpoint with Ricky (Stanzi). Going to hammer it in there and going to have great play-action pass off of it.

"He manages the game well. The same thing I said (two weeks ago) about Ricky Stanzi: He didn't take a lot of poor risks. He's going to throw the ball down the field, but he's not going to make poor decisions. He's not going to take risks and put the offense in bad situations.

"He's checked the ball down quite a bit, too, to his running backs and tight ends. So he's given the team a chance just to keep moving the ball.

"Offensively, when you manage the game like that, you've got a chance to keep drives alive and get first downs and mulch people up, and that's what they've done."

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