Mertz ready to ‘just play ball’ as a Badger

The Wisconsin Badgers recently lost a couple of big-time football recruits from their 2019 class with the de-commitments of wide receiver Nolan Groulx and safety Bryson Shaw, who flipped to Ohio State.

Their losses had many Badgers’ fans worrying about the biggest recruit of UW’s 2019 class: coveted four-star quarterback Graham Mertz.

Those worries seemingly can be put in the past with Mertz’s announcement in a tweet Thursday that he would not be switching allegiance to any of the big-time coaches and schools who have been trying to get him to flip his commitment.

Not Nick Saban and Alabama.

Not Urban Meyer and Ohio State.

Not any of the other top schools and programs who have pursued Mertz since he committed to the Badgers in October.

In the tweet, Mertz said that “I am ready to move past the recruitment process and just play ball. … This process has shown me that Wisconsin is the best fit for me as a student-athlete. It is time to bring together the best recruiting class Wisconsin has ever seen and bring a natty to Madison. With that being said I am completely shutting down my recruitment.”

The last five words were in bold, emphasizing his decision.

Holding on to Mertz could turn out to be a game-changer for UW’s future. The signal caller from Blue Valley North High in Overland Park, Kan., finished in the top 12 at the Elite 11 Finals last weekend to earn a spot at The Opening Finals in Dallas later this summer.

Since Mertz committed to the Badgers in October, he’s become a consensus four-star prospect and received offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Arizona State.

Mertz has visited Georgia and Ohio State since his commitment to Wisconsin, but both came when he was already in the area for other reasons.

Blue Valley North coach Andy Sims recently told the State Journal that he didn’t believe any program would be able to pry Mertz away from the Badgers.

“I think he’s really set on Wisconsin,” Sims said. “He’s committed to them. He’s got a good relationship with Coach (Paul) Chryst and Coach (Jon) Budmayr, and for all intents and purposes, that’s where he’s going to be.

“I know Graham very well, and I know what he can do, but from an outsider’s perspective, I think in two to three years Wisconsin can become a contender for national championships with Graham at quarterback.”

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