Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz to transfer after Badgers hire Luke Fickell as head coach

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz is leaving Madison.

Mertz is entering the transfer portal, he announced Sunday afternoon. The longtime Badgers starter has two years of eligibility left.

Wisconsin parted ways with head coach Paul Chryst earlier this season, and Mertz was open about his support for interim coach Jim Leonhard to get the permanent job. Wisconsin, however, hired Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell late last month.

Fickell said that he had “several conversations” with Mertz about staying at Wisconsin next season.

“We want nothing more than the best for him,” Fickell said Sunday, via 247’s Evan Flood. “I encouraged him to stick around here and see how the changes go. [Transferring is] not what I wanted him to do, but I respect that.”

Mertz had a career-high 2,136 yards and 19 touchdowns last season with the Badgers. He compiled a 19-13 record as a starter at Wisconsin, and threw for more than 5,400 yards and 38 touchdowns in that role.

It’s unclear where Mertz will end up. The Kansas City-area native was a four-star recruit out of high school, and the second-best quarterback in the 2019 class. He had offers from Alabama, Clemson, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and others.

Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz
New coach Luke Fickell said he spoke with Graham Mertz multiple times in an effort to get him to stay in Madison next season. (John Fisher/Getty Images)