Wisconsin fans might never need to know about former walk-on Danny Vanden Boom, who started this season fourth on the Badgers’ depth chart at quarterback.

On the other hand, it’s possible he’ll make his first collegiate start Saturday against Michigan, as the status of Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf remains uncertain. The status of Saturday’s game is also uncertain, but things seem to be trending positively for the Badgers to return to action after 2 weeks off.


Heading into fall camp, Vanden Boom was slotted behind Jack Coan, Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf, but Coan had surgery on his foot after an injury suffered in fall camp, and Mertz and Wolf both reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus. If Wisconsin had played last week against Purdue, Vanden Boom certainly seemed to be the next man up.

It’s possible the clock strikes midnight before Vanden Boom’s Cinderella story begins. But just in case he starts on Saturday, let’s get to know him.

Who is this man with the awesome name?

Let’s start with a scouting report. There isn’t a whole lot of college game tape to check out, but here are some notes on what viewers can expect if he plays.

First of all, at 6-5 and 207 pounds, the fourth-year junior will look the part.

In the spring of 2019, Wisconsin quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr said Vanden Boom knows who he is and who he is not, understanding his strengths and weaknesses. Vanden Boom evaluated himself for reporters in early October prior to the start of this season. He said his footwork and his arm strength could be better, but he gave himself high marks for football IQ and accuracy.

Vanden Boom’s high school head coach, Steve Jones, quoted in The Athletic, said his former QB is very calm and composed when he steps on the  field.

“I think he’s one of the most even-keeled, mild-mannered individuals that I’ve ever met,” Jones said in the article. “He doesn’t get too high. He doesn’t get too low. He’s got a really good head on his shoulders and a really strong mindset.”

Still want to know more? Here are 5 things to know about Vanden Boom.

1. He’s perfect as a college passer

Yes, Mertz set a single-game record for Wisconsin quarterbacks, completing 95.2% of his passes in his first start against Illinois, though Vanden Boom’s completion percentage is actually better. The former walk-on from Kimberly, Wisc., has completed 1 pass in his college career, and it came on Sept. 8, 2018 in Wisconsin’s 45-14 win over New Mexico. Not only was his lone pass attempt a completion, it went for a 3-yard touchdown to wide receiver Taj Mustapha. He appeared in two other games in 2018, in wins over Illinois on Oct. 20 and Rutgers on Nov. 3.

2. He led a high school powerhouse

Vanden Boom led Kimberly High School to Wisconsin state championships in his 2 seasons as the starting quarterback. In fact, the Kimberly Papermakers did not lose a game his final 2 years, and he finished 28-0 as a starting quarterback and was a part of the program’s 70-game winning streak. In his senior season, Vanden Boom completed 146 of 218 passes for 2,366 yards with 31 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and was named the Gatorade Wisconsin Player of the Year.

Vanden Boom’s high school performances as a quarterback led to offers from Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Western Illinois and Wyoming, according to 247sports.com. He had interest from Power 5 schools Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota and Northwestern as a 3-star recruit. He joined the Badgers program in 2017 as a walk-on but gained a scholarship before the year was out.

3. He’s pretty darn good at other sports

Vanden Boom played baseball and basketball in addition to being the star of the football team in high school. He helped Kimberly win a state title in baseball, finishing with a 7-3 record and a 1.36 ERA during his senior season. He was an all-conference selection. He received all-state recognition at shortstop as a junior when he hit .330 with 5 home runs. He also had a 4-1 record and 1.26 ERA that season.

Vanden Boom was also a member of the basketball team and was named a first team all-conference selection in his senior season.

4. He has family ties to Badgers program

Vanden Boom’s father Matt starred as a defensive back at Wisconsin, earning  first team All-America honors in 1981 along with first team all-Big Ten honors in 1981 and 1982. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. Part of an athletic family, Vanden Boom also has a cousin, Paul Verlander, who played basketball for Nebraska from 2004-09.

5. He’s a star in the classroom

Vanden Boom is majoring in personal finance and was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2018 and 2019. In 2019, he was also recognized as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar.

Off the field and outside of the classroom, Vanden Boom enjoys fishing and golfing. He volunteered with Difference MAKER Football Camp for students with disabilities.