Entering last week, Curt Phillips was a prime candidate to challenge Jon Budmayr for Wisconsin’s starting quarterback job in the fall. By Friday, he was declared out until June with his third right knee injury in less than two years.

After the Badgers’ spring game Saturday, head coach Bret Bielema revealed that after Phillips’ underwent exploratory surgery Friday, he will require another surgery after the semester and will be out for the 2011 season.

“Basically, his knee didn’t heal the way we projected or he wanted and he’s going to have go in for another procedure at some point, probably after school’s out,” Bielema said. “He’ll be out for the season.”

Bielema did not reveal the specifics of Phillips’ injury. The redshirt junior tore the ACL in his right knee twice last year, but Bielema said Phillips is still optimistic about continuing his football career.

“He’s already thinking about what his options [are], obviously petitions for six years,” Bielema said. “I haven’t even actually had a chance to talk to him since [Friday’s] surgery. Amazingly, the resolve that he has and just his mental toughness and awareness was kind of reassuring to him because I think he, overall, didn’t feel the knee was right where it was at. It kind of gives him some answers for him to move forward.”

The loss of Phillips significantly complicates Wisconsin’s quarterback situation. Budmayr, a redshirt sophomore, hasn’t started a game since his junior year of high school (he was injured his senior year). As a Badger, Budmayr has appeared in only three games for mop-up duty, going 8-for-10 with 134 yards and one touchdown.

Behind him on the quarterback depth chart are redshirt freshman Joe Brennan, true freshman Joel Stave and redshirt senior Nate Tice. Both Brennan and Stave have flashed signs of promising potential, but neither has seen the field in Madison. Stave enrolled early at UW this spring in order to gain an advantage for the fall. Tice, meanwhile, has appeared in only two games, rushing for a 17-yard touchdown late in Wisconsin’s 83-20 rout over Indiana last season.