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Tolzien lost the chance to go to a handful of MAC schools while he waited to commit. As spots filled up, Tolzien realized his choices would come down to Toledo _ where he would have to be a grayshirt _ and Wisconsin, if the Badgers made an offer. They did, on the weekend before signing day.

“I remember talking to my parents about it, thinking that whatever opportunity I got, I was going to have to make the best of it,” Tolzien said. “Ultimately, anything is just what you make of it.”

Tolzien arrived in Madison in 2006, wearing glasses and planning to soak up Wisconsin’s offense. He remembers hopping on his beat-up bike every morning _ “We called them the Red Rockets,” he said _ and racing his roommate to Camp Randall at dawn.

He got his work ethic from his parents and coaches, but also from a magazine interview with Donovan McNabb in which the veteran quarterback spoke about living every day in fear somebody was outworking him.

“I was a nerd my freshman year,” Tolzien said. “I remember we were rehearsing those plays by ourselves, over and over and over again, and now we’re running them in big-time stadiums in front of big crowds. It’s hard to believe.”

Tolzien didn’t play as a redshirt freshman, and completed five passes in three games as a sophomore. Moffitt has never seen his roommate more depressed than after the 2009 spring game, when Tolzien played poorly _ but Chryst named him the Badgers’ starting quarterback in fall camp.

In perhaps the most improbable development of all, Tolzien has turned himself into a respectable NFL prospect _ again not on the top of anybody’s board, but a candidate for a career.

If he keeps making his own good luck, who knows?

“He’s a good quarterback that not many people give enough credit to,” TCU linebacker Tank Carder said. “He’s great at disguising what he’s doing. Just a smart, veteran quarterback.”