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Former Badgers QB Graham Mertz named starter at Florida

The former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback has found a home elsewhere.

Former Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz was named the starter for the Florida Gators, where he transferred in the offseason, this season, head coach Billy Napier announced Friday.

Mertz, a three-year starter at Wisconsin, was in a tight battle throughout the offseason with fellow Gators quarterback Jack Miller III, ultimately prevailing and being named as the top choice for Florida.

The decision was reportedly not a big surprise, as Mertz, deemed the favorite upon transferring to Florida, had impressed the coaching staff with his leadership, ability to grasp the offensive system, and work ethic.

“The big thing I’ve been impressed with is just his ability to come in and learn the system, translate what he knows, and apply that to our system. And then just, you know, relentless in approach,” Napier said about Mertz on Friday, via AllGators’s Zach Goodall.

“Probably’s worked as hard as any player on our team. Probably as hard as a lot of players that I’ve been around, you know, in terms of the unseen hours.”

Earlier this summer, Napier shared the praises for his quarterback, pointing out his extensive college resume, as well as the person behind the player.

“I’ve been very impressed with Graham,” Napier said earlier this summer, via On3’s Kaiden Smith. “Graham’s a 32-start player, he’s played over 2,000 snaps at a really established program in Wisconsin and we went through an extensive process to make that decision. I think Graham’s an accomplished player, but more importantly, I’ve been impressed with the person and the leader.”

“This guy has an incredible work ethic, he is in the building and he is fanatical about his preparation. I think that has helped the competition, I think it’s caused Jack [Miller III] to respond. Jack’s had an incredible offseason and he’s in position for a great camp.”

Mertz enjoyed a tumultuous career at Wisconsin, starting off as the highest quarterback recruit in program history, which was followed by a flawless first start, where the signal-caller completed 20/21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns.

However, the inconsistencies began after that, as Mertz concluded the 2020 season with 990 passing yards, four touchdowns, and five interceptions, while completing just 57.1% of his passes over a six-game stretch following his strong first outing.

Then, Mertz threw for 1,958 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on a 59.5% completion rate in 2021 as a redshirt sophomore, continuing the inconsistencies that plagued the end of his first year as a starter in 2020.

This past season, Mertz arguably had his best year as a Badger, passing for 2,136 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, while completing 57.3% of his passes.

After the season, which involved two separate head coaching changes, Mertz transferred to Florida as the Badgers brought in a plethora of quarterbacks, and worked his way to becoming the starter, where he’ll replace Anthony Richardson, who was selected at No. 4 in the 2023 NFL Draft.

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