Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


2004 is Stocco’s time

For the past two years, John Stocco has been waiting. Arriving
at the University of Wisconsin in 2002, the strong-armed
quarterback from Richfield, Minn. found himself stuck behind
veteran signal callers Brooks Bollinger and Jim Sorgi. Unable to
get on the field, Stocco was left to wait in the wings as a

“I came in here and I wanted to compete right away just like any
other guy,” Stocco said. “Everybody wants to play. Nobody wants to
sit on the bench. Ultimately, I think the redshirt was good for me.
Now I’m getting my chance. They want to see what I can do, so I’ve
got to step up.”

Tough as it may have been for Stocco to sit on the sidelines for
a season, the redshirt year allowed him a chance to learn and


“That was a big help to me,” Stocco said. “I had two older,
veteran QBs to learn from in ‘Sorg’ and Brooks. That really helped
me a lot, just with reads. Any time I had a question, they could
help me out. I think it was very good for me.”

This season, the wait is over. With Sorgi hoping to join
Bollinger in the ranks of the NFL, it will be Stocco who enters the
fall as Wisconsin’s starting quarterback.

“[John] is No. 1 right now,” Wisconsin quarterbacks coach Jeff
Horton said. “‘Crystal,’ as Tom Cruise would say in whatever movie
that was.”

Stocco’s defining trait has always been his arm strength. His
cannon for an arm not only got him drafted as a pitcher by the
Minnesota Twins out of high school, but also sets him apart from
the rest of the Badger quarterbacks.

“That’s what I’ve been told,” Stocco said of his arm strength.
“I’ve always thought I’ve had a pretty strong arm growing up, so
it’s one thing that I’m glad to have because I’m real lucky that
I’ve got it.”

While only a sophomore, Stocco is a veteran in comparison to
younger quarterbacks Sean Lewis and Tyler Donovan.

“The last two years I was kind of the younger guy. Now I’m still
not old, but I’ve got a little more experience under my belt,” he
said. “It’s nice to keep getting more experience.”

Due to his experience, Stocco serves the dual role of both
teacher and competitor to Lewis and Donovan.

“I think that kind of makes me better and makes us all better,”
he said. “I’m not just learning. I think by teaching, you can also
learn a lot from that, so I think its good to do both.”

When Stocco takes the field this fall, it will not be his first
taste of game action. Due to injuries to starter Sorgi and the
at-times ineffectiveness of reserve Matt Schabert, Stocco appeared
in the Badgers’ final three games in 2003, most notably a 27-21
loss to Iowa Nov. 22. In that contest, he nearly led UW to victory,
tossing for 84 yards on five of nine passing, in relief of Sorgi
and Schabert.

“I think it was huge for me,” Stocco said of the game
experience. “I really didn’t know what to expect, and then I
finally got in there and got used to the speed of the game. I think
that’s going to help me a lot this year.”

That experience has carried over into practice this spring, as
his play has received positive reviews from the Wisconsin coaching

“I think John’s practiced well, I think he’s improved,” head
coach Barry Alvarez said. “I think he’s doing a nice job, I’ve been
pleased with him.”

“John has really established himself as a starter,” Horton said.
“I’m really pleased with the progress he’s making. He’s got a
terrific arm, and I think each day he understands the offense a
little better. Playing at the end of the year last year gave him a
little confidence, and he’s carried that over through the
off-season program. He’s becoming a leader on the team and now is
doing it on the practice field.”

What is left to be determined is whether Stocco can become a
leader on game days, something he is very eager to prove this

“It’s very exciting, especially since I got to get in there a
little bit last year and get my feet wet,” he said. “It’s real
exciting to have that opportunity and I’m looking forward to

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