Graham Mertz was once the most hyped quarterback recruit in Wisconsin history, but his career as a Badger did not meet expectations. After three seasons of ups and downs, Mertz entered the transfer portal and sought a fresh start elsewhere. He found his new home in Florida, where he joined the Gators as their starting quarterback for the 2023 season.

But why did Mertz choose to leave Wisconsin and join Florida? What were the factors that influenced his decision, and how has his transfer impacted the Gators?

Why Graham Mertz Transferred to Florida Gators

Mertz was a four-star prospect from Kansas who committed to Wisconsin in 2017. He was ranked as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback and the No. 65 overall player in the class of 2019 by 247Sports.

Mertz had offers from several powerhouse programs, such as Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Notre Dame, but he chose to play for Paul Chryst and the Badgers.

Mertz redshirted his freshman year, but he made a splash in his debut as a starter in 2020. He completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in a 45-7 win over Illinois, setting a school record for completion percentage and tying one for touchdown passes. He also earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week honors.

However, Mertz’s season worsened after he tested positive for COVID-19 and missed two games. He returned to action against Michigan, but he struggled to regain his form and consistency. He finished the season with 1,238 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions while completing 61.1% of his passes.

Mertz’s woes continued across 2021 and 2022, as he failed to lead Wisconsin to a Big Ten West title for the first time since 2016. In 2022, he threw for 2,136 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while completing 57.3% of his passes. He also suffered a shoulder injury that limited his mobility and accuracy.

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Wisconsin fired Chryst in October after a disappointing 4-5 start and hired former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell to take over the program. Fickell brought in former SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai as his starter, leaving Mertz with little chance to compete for the job.

Mertz announced his decision to enter the transfer portal on Dec. 4, 2022, ending his tenure as a Badger with mixed feelings and unfulfilled potential.

Mertz’s Rebirth at Florida

Mertz did not have to wait long to find his new destination, committing to Florida on Dec. 21, 2022. He joined the Gators as a graduate transfer with two years of remaining eligibility.

Mertz said that joining Florida was a “no-brainer” for him, as he was impressed by the weather, the people, the coaches, and the teammates. He also said that he was attracted by the history and tradition of the program, especially the statues of the three Heisman Trophy winners: Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, and Tim Tebow.

Mertz enrolled at Florida in January and competed with former Ohio State quarterback Jack Miller III for the starting job. He won the battle in August and was named the starter by coach Billy Napier.

Mertz has thrived in Napier’s offense, which features a balanced attack and a variety of weapons. He has thrown for 1,897 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions while completing 69.3% of his passes.

Mertz has credited Napier and his staff for helping him improve his skills and confidence. He has also praised his teammates for their support and chemistry. He has said that playing for Florida feels like “a dream come true” for him.

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