Graham Mertz, a former quarterback for Wisconsin, revealed on Wednesday that he is transferring to Florida after playing for the Badgers for four seasons. The move was made because Anthony Richardson’s decision to enter the 2023 NFL Draft following his sophomore season left the Gators in need of a player with positional experience.
Mertz, who threw for 5,405 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 26 interceptions while playing for the Badgers, is anticipated to be still eligible for two more seasons. Wisconsin’s main starter for the past three seasons was a former four-star prospect with mixed results. Over that time, the program had a record of 19–13, and he declared on December 1. 4 that he intended to leave the team as it changed coaches to Luke Fickell.
In the past three seasons, Wisconsin’s passing offense has finished 108th, 120th, and 112th, respectively, as the program has prioritized its run-heavy, defensive-oriented approach under Mertz. In its first year under coach Billy Napier, Florida was not a pass-happy team thanks to dynamic playmaker Richardson at the position and reliable young running back Montrell Johnson Jr., including Trevor Etienne. The Gators want to throw even more, though, and they did so more frequently than Wisconsin.
Mertz’s hiring as the quarterback is an odd choice, but it is unlikely to change the Gators’ quarterbacking philosophy. While Richardson’s inconsistent passing could be frustrating, his exceptional running ability frequently stumped rival defenses. On the other hand, Mertz is the epitome of a traditional pocket passer, with -21 rushing yards in his career. Only marginally better than Richardson’s 54.7% completion rate is his career figure of 59.5%.
The QB situation in Florida.
There will be some fierce competition for the position, even though Mertz should have an advantage as a seasoned veteran of Power Five football. The Gators’ future quarterback is five-star quarterback prospect Jaden Rashada, who signed with the team on Wednesday. The Pittsburg, California, the item is rated first. According to 247Sports, he is the No. 29 overall prospect in the Class of 2023 and has a promising future.
The team’s 2022 roster includes former four-star prospect and Ohio State transfer Jack Miller III. He played in his first game for Florida and made his first collegiate start in the Las Vegas Bowl, where UF only scored a field goal. At the very least, Mertz serves as the Gators’ backup quarterback in case Rashada’s development is still being prepared to be rushed by playing him right away.
Dominoes of the quarterback position.
The quarterback dominoes game that has been going on during this recruiting cycle has continued with Mertz’s commitment to Florida. Mertz was initially connected to Kentucky, but Devin Leary, a former NC State quarterback, decided to sign with the Wildcats. The Gators may also be considering the former Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall. In the end, Florida gained Mertz, a seasoned but unimpressive veteran.
Fans of Florida might have been more enthused by other transfer quarterbacks like Leary or Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong. Mertz, however, should provide a nice safety net at the position as Rashada gets used to the college game and helps Napier establish his position.