The Wisconsin Badgers have officially become a quarterback destination for the first time in over a decade, at least according to how the offseason has gone.
After hiring head coach Luke Fickell, who brought on offensive coordinator Phil Longo, the Badgers successfully landed fifth-year senior Tanner Mordecai, 2022 four-star Braedyn Locke, and 2022 four-star Nick Evers via the transfer portal to bolster the quarterback room.
Mordecai, a two-year starter at SMU, is easily the most experienced quarterback in the room, and profiles as the starter in what should be his final year of college.
Locke and Evers, as well as incumbent Myles Burkett and 2023 three-star Cole LaCrue shape out the remainder of the room.
Here’s what to expect from the quarterbacks in 2023.
STARTER: Tanner Mordecai
Mordecai enters the room after a two-year stretch at SMU where he threw for 7,152 yards, 72 touchdowns, and 22 interceptions, while completing 66.4% of his passes.
Mordecai is the unquestioned starter in the room, as the Badgers decided to get a good starting quarterback that can serve as the bridge for their younger options as they develop.
While he played at SMU over the past two years, there’s no question that Mordecai can keep up at the highest levels of the collegiate level, although he has yet to experience the change in weather that Madison will provide.
At SMU, Mordecai was a gunslinger, and was trusted with high passing volumes in certain games, although that did lead to a higher interception rate for the quarterback.
In 2023, I’d expect an increased level of aggression at the quarterback position with Mordecai at the helm, although the hope is that offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s offense will help mitigate some of the potential turnovers by making reads easier for the signal-caller with the number of RPOs.
BACKUP: Braedyn Locke
Thus far, there’s been no indication that Braedyn Locke has much competition for the backup quarterback spot after quickly moving up the depth chart following his arrival in Madison.
Locke, a redshirt freshman transfer from Mississippi State, learned the principles of the Air Raid offense at his previous destination, providing a better understanding of Longo’s offense when arriving at Wisconsin, and put the work in to become the top option off the bench.
The true question with Locke is: can he be a frontline starter in the Big Ten? Locke seems to be a cerebral quarterback, an extremely important feature in this offense, but his traits may limit what his true upside could be.
But, for now, Locke seems to be a capable backup, and the top option that the team trusts behind Mordecai at the quarterback position.
THE BENCH: Nick Evers, Myles Burkett, Cole LaCrue
Redshirt freshman four-star transfer Nick Evers arrived in Madison with a good deal of hype, given his perceived arm talent, which made him a quick fan favorite.
However, the on-field production was different, as Evers fell behind on the depth chart to begin spring ball, with offensive coordinator Phil Longo citing a slower start in grasping the offense, putting him behind the eight-ball in this unit.
Evers is a project quarterback, as he’ll need to continue developing his processing, which comes with a greater understanding of the offense, but the arm talent and athleticism are undeniable.
Burkett, on the other hand, has been in the mix as the third quarterback on the depth chart, electing to stay in Madison, despite the amount of change in the room this offseason.
At the moment, he could have the edge on Evers, although it truly doesn't matter at this stage, given his understanding of the offense, although he’ll need to work on his inconsistencies.
LaCrue, a three-star quarterback in the 2023 class, was a commit from the previous staff, but remained as the transition of coach went along, and now serves as the fifth quarterback, as well as the lone freshman signal-caller after the three redshirt freshmen ahead of him.
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