How will Luke Fickell’s hiring affect Graham Mertz, Wisconsin QBs?

Graham Mertz passed for 2,130 yards this season, with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Mertz is in his fourth year in the program, but with UW set to run a different offense in 2023, he might consider entering the transfer portal.

MADISON – Luke Fickell’s hiring likely will affect Wisconsin’s quarterbacks more than any other position group on the team.

Fickell, Cincinnati’s head coach for the last six seasons, prefers to recruit and develop dual-threat quarterbacks.

Desmond Ridder started 48 games in four seasons at Cincinnati from 2018-21. He passed for 10,239 yards and 87 touchdowns but also rushed for 2,180 yards and 28 touchdowns.

The Bearcats’ lone quarterback commitment for the 2023 class is Brady Drogosh, a dual-threat prospect from Michigan.

Colorado quarterback Cole LaCrue still planning to sign with Wisconsin

UW has an oral commitment from Cole LaCrue, a dual-threat quarterback from Colorado, for the 2023 class. That offer was extended when Jim Leonhard was interim head coach but LaCrue still plans to sign with UW.

Don’t be surprised if Fickell uses the transfer portal, which opens Monday, to bring in a more mobile quarterback.

Myles Burkett capable of running Luke Fickell’s style of offense

UW freshman Myles Burkett, who led Franklin High School to the WIAA Division 1 state title as a senior, is mobile and appears capable of running the offense Fickell prefers. He passed for 6,483 yards and 71 touchdowns in high school but also rushed for 1,054 yards and 14 touchdowns.

What does the future hold for Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf?

Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf both are eligible to return to UW in 2023. Wolf is more mobile than Mertz but neither player is considered a dual-threat quarterback.

Wolf is in his fifth year in the program. He has played in only 12 games.

Mertz is in his fourth year in the program. He has started 32 games and has played under three offensive coordinators – Paul Chryst, Joe Rudolph and Bobby Engram.

With UW set to run a different offense in 2023 and Engram’s status unclear, Mertz might be better served by looking to transfer.

More:Luke Fickell begins the process of assembling his first coaching staff at Wisconsin

More:A running list of Badgers football players and recruits departing during coaching changes

Mertz has passed for 2,130 yards this season, with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His overall game has improved and he entered the 2022 season with a combined 19 touchdown passes in his first 20 starts.

Mertz played behind an offensive line that underwent consistent change, largely because of injuries. He demonstrated toughness after taking hard hits during the season.

However, in the last four games he has completed just 45 of 98 attempts (45.9%) for 506 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

A decision by Mertz to use the transfer portal for a fresh start would be understandable.

The alternative is to stay and battle to start for the fourth consecutive year, but in a new offense and perhaps with a new coordinator.

Whatever Mertz decides, it is clear the hiring of Fickell is changing the look of the quarterback position at UW.  

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