Florida Gators quarterback Graham Mertz (15) stretches with Florida Gators quarterback Jack Miller III (10) and Florida Gators quarterback Max Brown (17) during fall football practice at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, August 5, 2023. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun]

Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz wins Florida QB battle

Graham Mertz will be the guy for the Gators when Florida opens the 2023 season at Utah.

“We’ve seen enough,” Florida head coach Billy Napier declared Friday. “I think 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. Probably has worked as hard as any player on our team.”

Mertz, who is wearing Tim Tebow’s No. 15 jersey with the Gators, started 32 games at Wisconsin before entering the transfer portal in January and quickly aligning with Napier and the Gators, who were in the early stages of learning starting quarterback Anthony Richardson was on his way to the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts made Richardson the No. 4 pick in the draft in April.

At that time, Mertz was locked in a tight competition at quarterback with redshirt sophomore Jack Miller, a former transfer from Ohio State.

“My biggest thing is I want to be coached, and I want to be coached hard,” Mertz said of choosing Florida instead of staying at Wisconsin following a coaching change. “The standard here is exactly where you want it to be. It was nice to have that plan and hear that. They were 100 percent honest with me, telling me what they saw in my game, what I needed to improve, and how they would improve it. That was very refreshing. For me, it was a no-brainer.”

The Gators were informed of the QB call by Napier on Friday, with 20 days left to prepare for the game at Salt Lake City on Aug. 31.

Mertz, a redshirt junior, would be in line to make his debut at The Swamp in Gainesville on Sept. 9 against McNeese State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) during the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz entering transfer portal

After starting at quarterback for Wisconsin for the past three seasons, Graham Mertz announced Sunday he is entering the transfer portal.

Mertz has two years of NCAA eligibility remaining, counting the extra year given to athletes who played amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mertz was one of the highest-ranked quarterback recruits in the Class of 2019. He took over as the Badgers’ starter in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and has started 32 straight games for the program since.

He leaves Wisconsin having completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 5,405 yards, 38 touchdowns and 26 interceptions in his career.

Wisconsin fired coach Paul Chryst on Oct. 2 and hired former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell as his replacement in late November. The Badgers (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) were selected Sunday to play in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix against Oklahoma State.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA;  Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) walks from the field after being injured during the third quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz (chest) hurt against Michigan

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz exited Saturday’s 38-17 home loss to Michigan with a chest injury.

Badgers coach Paul Chryst said Mertz went to a local hospital for further evaluation.

Mertz was injured when he was hit by Michigan’s Daxton Hill while being sacked during the first series of the third quarter.

Mertz was 8-of-15 passing for 115 yards and one touchdown before departing. Chase Wolf replaced him and was 3-of-8 passing for 52 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Chryst said that tight end Jake Ferguson also left with a chest injury. Ferguson had two catches for 28 yards.

Wisconsin (1-3, 0-2 Big Ten) has been outscored 79-30 over the last two games. The Badgers lost to Notre Dame 41-13 last week.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) in action during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA formally adopts interim name, image and likeness policy

In a sea of change for the world of amateur athletics, the NCAA formally adopted an interim policy to allow college athletes to benefit from their names, images and likenesses, effective Thursday.

The rule change means college athletes will be allowed to leverage their names and images to earn money or gifts through business arrangements, including product endorsements or trademarks.

The NCAA Division I Council voted to support the policy Monday, and the Division I Board of Directors voted in favor of that recommendation on Wednesday.

The college sports governing body was pressured into action as states around the country began to adopt their own NIL laws. Twenty states have passed NIL legislation so far, with laws in seven states scheduled to go into effect Thursday.

“With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”

Until recently, the NCAA fought against the idea of “student-athletes” earning monetary compensation in any way — whether paid directly for their work in their respective sports or through other modes of profit like selling autographs.

The NCAA continues to oppose “pay for play,” but has now outlined permissible ways for athletes to earn compensation under the new NIL rules. To avoid an unbalanced playing field between universities in states with NIL legislation and those in states without it, the NCAA’s policy allows students to profit off their names, images and likenesses regardless of which state they attend school.

College athletes are already putting business plans into motion. Wisconsin starting quarterback Graham Mertz revealed a personal trademark this week, which he plans to use for the sale of clothing.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2020; Charlotte, NC, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Jack Dunn (16) is tackled on a punt return by Wake Forest Demon Deacons wide receiver Ke'Shawn Williams (81) during second quarter action at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin downs Wake Forest in Mayo Bowl

Quarterback Graham Mertz scored two of Wisconsin’s five rushing touchdowns and also threw for a score as the Badgers defeated Wake Forest 42-28 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

Wisconsin (4-3), which completed the season with back-to-back victories following a three-game skid, won despite being outgained 518-266. Other than an 11-play drive for their first points, the Badgers never had a scoring possession last more than five plays.

After a fast start, Wake Forest (4-5) fizzled under an avalanche of mistakes. Quarterback Sam Hartman was intercepted four times in a 12-pass stretch, though he threw three touchdown passes to Jaquarii Roberson.

Mertz was 11 of 17 for 130 yards and an interception in the air.

Hartman, who ended up 20-for-37 passing for 318 yards before Michael Kern took over at quarterback, threw two first-quarter touchdown passes to Roberson, covering 4 and 18 yards. But the 14-0 lead vanished in the second quarter. The Badgers scored on John Chenal’s 2-yard run before using a blocked punt prior to Mertz’s 1-yard run with 3:21 remaining in the first half, with that scoring possession needing just 9 yards.

After Hartman’s 8-yard TD pass to Roberson opened the second-half scoring, Wisconsin rattled off four touchdowns in a span of more than 14-minutes.

Mertz ran 1 yard for a touchdown and then finished the third-quarter scoring with a 14-yard pass play to Mason Stokke.

Garrett Groshek and Jalen Berger each had 1-yard scoring runs in the fourth quarter — the first of those following Scott Nelson’s interception return (on Hartman’s fourth-down pass) to the Wake Forest 2-yard line and the latter coming after Collin Wilder’s interception and 72-yard return set up the Badgers at the Wake Forest 3.

Wake Forest’s Christian Beal-Smith scored on a 1-yard run with six seconds left. He finished with 82 rushing yards on 21 carries. Roberson had 131 receiving yards on eight catches and teammate Donavon Greene posted 122 receiving yards with six receptions.

Wisconsin was making the first appearance for a Big Ten school in Charlotte’s bowl. This marked its first meeting anywhere against the Demon Deacons.

Wake Forest, which played in only its second game since mid-November, finished the season on a three-game losing streak following a four-game winning string.

The Demon Deacons are 2-1 in bowl outings in Charlotte.

–Field Level Media