Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Myles Burkett had a good start to his career, beating out former three-star quarterback Deacon Hill for the backup job to Graham Mertz, which was his role for a majority of the 2021 season.
However, fifth-year senior Chase Wolf returned from injury, starting in Wisconsin’s bowl game under Luke Fickell, while the Badgers added three quarterbacks in the transfer portal, clouding the room for Burkett.
How has the redshirt freshman addressed the opportunity?
“Everything has gone pretty smooth. I knew Nick [Evers] before he came here. I didn’t know Tanner [Mordecai or] Braedyn [Locke], but have respect for them, obviously, because of what they were able to accomplish. I mean, I think that’s the one thing that you see at this level is there’s mutual respect because it’s so hard to get here. It’s so hard to play this position at this level,” Burkett said.
Despite the crowded position group, Burkett doesn't have any negative feelings toward the program, only looking to continue competing with his fellow quarterbacks.
“So, you have mutual respect for these guys. No animosity, no ill will. And then once you get around them, they’re great guys, they’re great players, they’re great competitors,” Burkett said. So, it’s only something that you can love to see in the qualities of the guys that you’re going to be around all the time.”
But, even with the amount of high-level competition, Burkett made his main goal clear: trying to be the starting quarterback at the University of Wisconsin.
“I’m still trying to be a starting quarterback here. I think what’s been made clear by Coach Longo is you got to do certain things. You got to play a certain level to achieve that. So I push myself to critique my game little by little to try to be a perfectionist a little bit,” Burkett said. “But at the end of the day, I’m trying to be a starting quarterback here and I’m going to try to do everything I can to do that.”
Earlier in the offseason, offensive coordinator Phil Longo shared that the current depth chart for quarterbacks was Tanner Mordecai and Braedyn Locke as the top two options respectively, followed by walk-on Marshall Howe, to some surprise.
Burkett and four-star transfer Nick Evers were seen as the bottom two of the depth chart, not for their talent, but rather for their understanding of the offense.
“Myles [Burkett] and Nick [Evers] are learning still. I think it’s hard to go lead when you don’t have everything down. And then I think Marshall, Braedyn, and [Tanner have] the best understanding of the system,” Longo shared.
However, that doesn't mean Burkett doesn't have good days, which have provided him reps with the third-string offense at times.
“Nobody has really taken a stranglehold of that third spot. A lot of the initial reps that they’re assigned are based on their knowledge of what we’re doing that day. And then after that, it’s based on their production,” Longo said. “Myles is still learning it. He has days where he’s the three guy, and I’m just waiting to see one of the guys that is in that three spot on the practice day, kind of take control and have a good clean decision-making and production day and then start putting those together. And those are the guys that wind up separating themselves from whoever’s going to be four and whoever’s going to be five.”
Despite what the pecking order currently is, Longo assured that Burkett wasn't in the doghouse by any means, rather praising his attitude and work ethic.
“Attitude has been great. He answers a lot of questions in the meetings. He studies. He comes into meetings prepared. He’s positive and productive. I have no issues with Myles at all. He’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do. Right now, he’s just in the process of competing with the rest of the guys, and the pecking order is kind of dictated daily,” Longo said.
The Badgers quarterback is certainly in a different spot than when he earned the backup job over Deacon Hill a season ago.
But, that hasn't changed his mindset, as Burkett shared that he was never going to leave Wisconsin, regardless of the quarterback situation, per the Athletic’s Jesse Temple.
Wisconsin QB Myles Burkett was asked whether he's ever considered leaving the program given that three transfers were brought in this offseason and he's fighting for third-team reps in spring practice. Burkett gave a thoughtful response. pic.twitter.com/6vbmo0hv6j— Jesse Temple (@jessetemple) April 12, 2023
Regardless of who wins the spot, it appears that Wisconsin has a quarterback room filled with strong-minded players with good attitudes, boding well for the future once their talent develops.