Graham Mertz is the subject of this edition of Freshman Focus, Badger of Honor’s series helping Wisconsin football fans get to know the incoming talent.
Hometown: Mission, Kansas
Rankings: 4-star (No. 3 pro-style quarterback, No. 176 overall)
Other Notable Offers: Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, among others
Graham Mertz is probably one of the most exciting and popular recruits in Wisconsin football history. It isn’t too common when Wisconsin can get a top quarterback in the country to commit, but here we are. Honestly, I thought it was going to be the same typical story when it came to a big recruit.
Wisconsin offers first when they are somewhat unknown. The recruit gives out positive vibes that they will come to Wisconsin and maybe even commit. Then they start blowing up. Bigger, blue-chip schools like to show their interest. Recruit then bites and commits to the bigger school. Fin.
But Graham Mertz wasn’t like that. Wisconsin was Mertz’s second offer when he was still a 3-star quarterback. Mertz committed to Wisconsin in October of 2017, during his junior season. After his season was done, big offers started rolling in from Michigan, Alabama, Ohio St., Notre Dame, and Clemson.
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There was a lot of concern among fans that Mertz would waiver and take the bait on another program, but Mertz stuck with his pledge to Wisconsin football.
He participated in the Elite 11 camp, which is for the premier quarterback recruits in the country. He also played in the All-American Bowl, where he went off and won MVP. He broke two passing records…in one half! He had 188 yards passing and five touchdowns. Later in the game, Oklahoma commit Spencer Rattler threw for 234 yards, breaking the record Mertz just set, but he still holds the record for passing touchdowns.
Mertz then enrolled early to Madison so he could participate in spring practice. He was right in the mix with Coan, so the quarterback competition this fall should be interesting.
What to expect
The quarterback competition will have a lot of eyes on it this fall. Jack Coan comes in as the incumbent with experience playing at this level. Mertz is coming with a lot of hype, which could put a lot of pressure on Coan and Chryst too.
I feel like Coan will start the season because he played last year, but I think he will be on a short leash, especially if Mertz if practicing well. There are a few games early in the schedule where Mertz may see some action if it is a blowout. Games against Central Michigan and Kent State could give us a good opportunity to see Mertz in action.
Eventually, I think Chryst will have to make the decision to put the best quarterback on the field, and I think Mertz is the more talented player. With his passing ability, opposing defenses will have to respect the Badger’s passing game more, not allowing them to stack the box against Jonathan Taylor. So in turn, Mertz’s presence on the field could also make life a little easier for Taylor.
If he turns out to be the player a lot of people think he can be, Wisconsin football should have a quarterback they haven’t had for a while that could lead them to a lot of success in the next two to three years.
All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com