The University of Wisconsin has ha a habit of getting their evaluations pretty spot on at the quarterback position since the arrival of head coach Paul Chryst.
So, when they went after little-known Mission (Kan.) Blue Valley North high school quarterback Graham Mertz early in the 2019 recruiting cycle it made others begin to take notice. Since that offer, Mertz has done nothing but live up to the Badgers early evaluation of him as a top pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class.
Over this past weekend, Mertz, who is rated a four-star prospect and the No. 5 ranked pro-style quarterback according to the 247Sports composite rankings, had a chance to cement himself as a member of the elite QB prospects in the class at the Elite 11 competition.
He did just that, earning high praise all weekend long and also earning an invite to The Opening along with 11 of the 24 other quarterbacks that were at the Elite 11 Finals this past weekend.
According to 247Sports’ Greg Biggins, Mertz had a great overall weekend despite a bit of an up-and-down day on Saturday.
“Mertz was great on Friday, struggled Saturday and was solid Sunday,” said Biggins. “He’s a high-upside kid with all the physical tools you could want in a next-level quarterback. When you combine his size and makeup as well, he has among the biggest potentials this group.”
Things looked really good for Mertz after Friday, with Biggins rating him as the No. 3 performer of the day.
For those following along with Mertz and the recruiting trail in general, this shouldn’t have been a surprise. Wisconsin figured out his high upside potential far in advance of almost every other Power 5 program in the country and have been hanging on to his commitment despite his status as an elite prospect continuing to grow.
Hanging on has seemed to be the appropriate term, as fans have long seen a trend of UW being the first to get a commitment from a big player and watching the player blow up and de-commit. It has happened twice already in the 2019 class with four-star wide receiver Nolan Groulx and three-star safety Bryson Shaw.
It’s been a spring full of big offers for Mertz too, including hard efforts from the likes of Ohio State and Notre Dame so far.
Through it all, Mertz has kept open communication with the Badgers coaching staff and has yet to take any other visits. However, this upcoming weekend could be huge, as Mertz comes to the Madison campus for his official visit.
Mertz has yet to publicly flat-out say he won’t be listening to the likes of Ohio State and Notre Dame, but he also hasn’t set up any other official visits and hasn’t seen any other campuses that haven’t been around areas in which he has played games or been to camps this offseason.
With the Badgers winning back-to-back New Years Six contests and contending for a berth in the College Football Playoff this past season, it could be holding on to an elite prospect like Mertz that can make the difference going forward.
It is also good to know that UW will have a spotlight player at the biggest recruiting event of the summer in The Opening, which will take place June 30 – July 3 in Dallas, Texas.
This month is going to be huge towards setting the final push for UW’s 2019 class, and Mertz’s status and performance will be the biggest key to all of that.
Wisconsin Badgers 2019 Early Singing Day Preview: Quarterback
Believe it or not, the time to look ahead to 2019 is already here. While there is still the Pinstripe Bowl to be played, UW’s coaching staff is squarely focused on getting its recruiting class over the finish line.
For many, that means signing on the early national signing day (Dec. 19) and we’ll be breaking down each position group as it stands heading in to the first time these recruits can officially call themselves Badgers.
Up today is the position everyone is talking about heading in to the offseason — quarterback.
UW’s Needs: 1
UW Commits: 1
Expected to Sign: Graham Mertz
Mertz comes in as the No. 4 ranked pro-style quarterback in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He also finished off his high school career at Blue Valley North High School in electrifying fashion, completing 62.3 percent of his passes (238 of 382) for 3,883 yards and 51 touchdowns.
But, what is perhaps the most impressive part of Mertz’s game is just how smooth he looks on film. There isn’t a choppy part to his game, few mechanical issues that are obvious to the naked eye and frankly is the first quarterback coming out of high school that looks the part of a star I’ve ever seen in a lifetime of watching Badgers football.
Let the film speak for itself with Mertz’s game.
Biggest Get: Mertz
Getting the No. 1 guy on your board is always a huge win. Doing so with one of the best players at their position in the country, that’s a double win. Wisconsin did exactly that in targeting Mertz early on in the process and staying all over him.
UW outlasted huge late efforts from the who’s who of college football in Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Miami (FL), Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State to name a few.
Biggest Miss: None
Simply put, the Badgers wanted Mertz from the get-go and got him in the fold. There is no miss when it comes to a top 5 quarterback in this recruiting class.
What to Expect: Consistency
No quarterback in the recruiting rankings era has come in to Wisconsin as highly-touted as Mertz will and it is his consistency from camp to camp and game to game that has won many scouts over.
It’s also perhaps the one thing that the Badgers missed most from the quarterback position in 2018. The inconsistency from veteran Alex Hornibrook and the inexperience from sophomore Jack Coan was painful to watch.
Does that mean Mertz comes right in and takes over the starting position? A lot will depend on two factors — how quickly Mertz can adjust to the speed and verbiage of the college game and how will Chryst and Co. handle offseason competition.
If Mertz can show command of the offense and the consistency everyone is craving…what is the point of not riding through a few bumps for what could be a stellar player down the line? We’ll see if Chryst allows real competition or rides with Hornibrook through a final season out of loyalty.
No player will be under a bigger microscope come spring ball than Mertz will be. Let’s see how he handles the big lights before anointing him as the savior of UW football.
Badgers get IMG Academy WR Cameron Phillips’ verbal commitment
The 2019 early signing period is almost upon us and the Wisconsin Badgers continue to look to add to their class.
On Saturday morning they got a big commitment as 3-star wide receiver Cameron Phillips announced his intention to sign with the Badgers.
Phillips is a name that has gone under the radar largely because he didn’t play a down of football in 2018 after suffering a knee injury in the spring while working out at IMG Academy.
He is commitment No. 18 in the 2019 class for the Badgers and one of the final pieces to the puzzle. But, that doesn’t mean he is an afterthought either.
He is the No. 75 ranked wide receiver in the class and the No. 578 ranked player in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings. 247Sports has him as the No. 90 wide receiver and the No. 662 player in the country by their own rankings.
Phillips is very familiar with the Badgers program, having been recruited by UW for the better part of two years and getting in an unofficial visit last November.
“Wisconsin was definitely one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever experienced,” Phillips said last year, via Badger247. “The fans were awesome and I loved the energy coming from the players and coaches.”
The film on Phillips from his junior year shows a player that was used in a variety of ways, but also appears to be a perfect fit in the slot and could be a replacement for the likes of A.J. Taylor, who will graduate in the next few years.
Wisconsin also appears to be one of the few programs that stayed hard on him after his injury and may have been able to steal a really quality commitment from under some big programs as well.
Lorne Bowman becomes 1st Badgers basketball commit of 2020 class
National signing day for the 2019 class was earlier this week and the Wisconsin Badgers announced just one commit for the class.
With a limited amount of scholarships open in the 2020 recruiting class, it’s likely the Badgers will look to keep a few of the remaining openings in the 2019 class open for 2020 prospects.
However, it didn’t take long for one of those few spots to be filled, as under-the-radar point guard Lorne Bowman announced his commitment to UW via his Twitter account.
The point guard is currently unranked in the 2020 class, but expect that to change as the evaluators at various recruiting services re-evaluate the class in the coming weeks and months.
Bowman rose up the Badgers recruiting board after watching him take off a bit on the AAU circuit this past summer. After waiting until September to make him an official offer, Bowman leapt at the chance provided to him by the Badgers.
The Detroit (Mich.) St. Mary’s product got to Madison for the Badgers exhibition victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh earlier this month and raved about his weekend experience on campus.
“The city of Madison is amazing,” Bowman told 247sports. “The campus is just as good, maybe even better. To see all the people and all the things to do around Madison, it was amazing.”
What are the Badgers Getting?
After a few classes of leaders and pass-first kind of point guards (even if D’Mitrick Trice is lighting up the scoreboard as of late), the Badgers needed a player like Bowman at the point. He’s a natural scorer and has a good shot.
Wisconsin needs someone that can create his own offense, especially with the perimeter threats that will still be in Madison when Bowman arrives. His ability to beat people off the dribble is nice and his on-ball confidence is a change of pace from the guards the Badgers currently have.
Imagine a future with him slashing and wings scoring from his passes? It’s a sweet thought. But, overall, Bowman is a classic project for the UW coaching staff. The good news is that the basics are all there for a quality player.
Look for Wisconsin to get Bowman in to the weight room and for him to be a potentially lethal scorer when/if he gets his opportunity in the Cardinal and White.
Badgers Player He Most Reminds Us Of: Trevon Hughes
Yes, Bowman has a few inches on Hughes and Hughes likely had a few pounds on Bowman when he came to the Badgers…but, there games are about as similar as you can imagine.
Both are on the ball scorers and aren’t afraid to slash to the basket or take on a little contact. Hughes was also were speedy players who made the Badgers more athletic overall and Bowman can do that as well.
Here’s a look at Hughes’ game for those of you not old enough to remember all the way back to 2010 or so.
What Does it Mean for the rest of the 2020 Class?
It’s a nice start to the class, but the Badgers are in on some big time targets as well and getting Bowman isn’t going to be make or break for any of the big targets on UW’s board.
There is 5 star in-state product Jalen Johnson, who has seen his recruitment completely blow up and looks increasingly likely to head to one of the blue bloods that has offered him despite a full-court press by the Badgers.
According to 247Sports, the Badgers also have offers out to a number of 4-star talent from across the Midwest and beyond. The big names to watch from this group are Reece Beckman (4-star guard from Louisiana), Ethan Morton (4-star guard from Butler, PA) and Shon Robinson (4-star forward from Arizona).
Robinson took an official visit to the Madison campus in October and his recruitment may not play out much longer either unless he wants to wait out the spring evaluation period as well.
Wisconsin needs to hit on at least two big men in this class and right now my guess is that Robinson and Carlson are the likeliest bets as Garcia could see his already impressive offer list continue to grow if he wants to play out the spring and summer recruiting periods this next year.
Badgers basketball make signing of Tyler Wahl official
The Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball recruiting class in 2019 could’ve been huge. But, when the dust settled, the Badgers will add just one player to the mix.
After nearly a year as the lone known commitment in the 2019 class, 6-7 forward Tyler Wahl officially signed his National Letter of Intent to join the Badgers program.
Wahl, a Lakeville (Minn.) North product and 4-star prospect, comes to the Badgers as the No. 36 ranked small forward in the country according to the 247sports rankings and the No. 45 ranked by the 247sports composite rankings.
Overall in the class, Wahl is No. 177 according to the 247sports composite rankings and No. 140 by 247sports.
What are the Badgers getting?
Wisconsin loves them some scrappy players that they can mold in to offensive stars. In Wahl, the Badgers have that for sure, only maybe someone more advanced than usual in the offensive game.
At 6-7, most would believe he’s a slasher and needs people to help him get open. Instead, Wahl’s game is one of a guard in a bigger body. He’s been seen as a point-forward on many occasions on the AAU circuit, and his offensive game has a good jumper with an improving
Overall, the Badgers are getting a player that can make an immediate impact. Don’t be surprised to see Wahl push for a starting job, likely battling the returning Aleem Ford at the “3” position next year.
Badgers Player He Most Reminds Us Of: Josh Gasser
His frame and height may make you think of Sam Dekker right away, but one look at his film suggests a very different player to be reminded of.
That’s former Badgers guard Josh Gasser.
Simply put, the two players play so hard and with so much drive it’s hard not to notice it. Additionally, Wahl is a guy whom others look to for leadership thanks to his willingness to put everything on the line for his team.
Gasser may have a better outside game, but in terms of the intangibles that make a Badgers player a success, Wahl is like this generation’s Gasser…and Wisconsin can always use more of those types of players.
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