University of Wisconsin football head coach Paul Chryst recently named Jack Coan second on the quarterback depth chart for the upcoming season — but he is definitely not your stereotypical Wisconsin backup.
Hailing from Long Island, the two sport star from Sayville High School was a heavily recruited lacrosse player who originally committed to play at perennial lacrosse power Notre Dame University. Long Island is a hotbed for lacrosse and top recruiters flock from across the country to witness the talent on the island. Although Coan verbally committed to play lacrosse at Notre Dame at the end of his freshmen season at Sayville, he continued to play football throughout the rest of his high school career.
“A lot of the guys who played football played lacrosse and vice versa, and it was great just being around the same guys there all the time,” Coan said.
After his high school coach sent his tapes, Coan was heavily recruited by the big schools. Split between Notre Dame for lacrosse and Michigan or UW for football, Coan eventually settled on Wisconsin, where he excelled throughout spring practice and eventually won the backup job over the summer.
Coan was in a unique position coming into college and his decision to choose football over lacrosse was certainly a difficult one. Growing up, lacrosse and football were nearly one and the same to Coan, explaining why he never quit either throughout the duration of high school.
At the end of the day, football was Coan’s first love, but we cannot downplay what must have been an incredibly difficult decision for a player with so much potential to succeed in multiple sports.
The confidence the coaching staff has in Coan is incredibly high. They have reiterated they would put full trust in the freshmen to run the field, should anything happen to incumbent starter Alex Hornibrook. While the backup quarterback for most teams usually doesn’t see the field early in the season, the UW coaching staff has different ideas.
Earlier this summer, athletic director Barry Alvarez told ESPN Madison that Coan is the “set number two,” and he’s going to have to get in the game to get his feet wet. A man of his word, Alvarez put Coan in the fourth quarter of the home opener against Utah State, a move which allowed him to lead the Badgers on a touchdown drive capped off by a one yard rushing touchdown by Rachid Ibrahim.
The staff took took a similar approach with Hornibrook last year, as he eventually ended up playing well enough to wrestle the starting position away from Bart Houston. Now, Hornibook holds a strong grasp on the position, but Badger fans can rest easy knowing we have a safety blanket should Hornbook go down.