Wisconsin recruiting: QB commit Graham Mertz dazzles at Army combine; 5-star DT Ishmael Sophsher interested in Badgers

Wisconsin-Recruiting-Quarterback-Graham Mertz

Recruiting never stops in Badgers country, and we’re here to help put it all in perspective. Join us every Tuesday and Thursday night for a recap of Wisconsin recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.

QB commit Graham Mertz dazzles at Army combine

Wisconsin wrapped up its 2017 football season last week, but many Badgers fans already are eagerly looking ahead to the future. One reason they have to be excited is the commitment of quarterback Graham Mertz (Overland Park, Kan.) in the 2019 recruiting class.

Mertz committed to Wisconsin on Oct. 8 and then proceeded to decimate opponents on the way to a monster junior season. He led Blue Valley North to the Kansas Class 6A state championship and finished the season completing 269 of 434 passes (62 percent) for 3,684 yards with 45 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Mertz added 5 rushing touchdowns.

Mertz was at his best in the biggest moments. He guided his team to a thrilling 44-37 double-overtime victory against Blue Valley in the state semifinal, throwing for 305 yards with 3 touchdowns. He also rushed for 95 yards and accounted for 5 touchdowns total. In a 49-42 state championship victory against Derby, Mertz completed 24 of 30 passes for 462 yards with 4 touchdowns. He scored on a 15-yard touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

It’s no surprise, then, that Mertz’s name has begun blowing up across the national recruiting landscape. Since committing to Wisconsin, he has earned scholarship offers from Ole Miss and Michigan. He was invited this month to participate in the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas. The combine features 650 underclassmen from 2019, 2020 and 2021 who take part in testing, camp drills and 1-on-1 competitions.

By all accounts, Mertz was sensational last Friday. Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports named Mertz to his honorable mention team as the second-best quarterback at the combine. A number of videos featuring Mertz at the combine surfaced on Twitter. Here is a sampling of them:

Wisconsin quite likely will have to hold off several more college suitors for Mertz as he enters his senior season. But for now, the Badgers have a quarterback with tremendous potential. Mertz is a 4-star prospect and is ranked as the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite.

For those curious, here is another video in which Mertz appears, courtesy of the Kansas City Star. The video features Justin Hoover, who is a private quarterbacks coach in the Kansas City area and teaches Mertz.

5-star DT Ishmael Sopsher interested in visiting Wisconsin

Ishmael Sopsher, a 6-foot-5, 279-pound defensive tackle from Amite, La., is a 5-star prospect who is rated as the No. 2 player in the country in the 2019 recruiting class. He also apparently is interested in taking a visit to Wisconsin.

Sopsher has 21 scholarship offers, including from Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson Oregon, Penn State, Miami and Ole Miss. Wisconsin is not listed as a school that has offered him a scholarship. But if Sopsher is interested, odds are the Badgers would be, given his immense talent.

Sopsher told Allen Trieu of 247Sports that he hoped to visit Nebraska, Wisconsin, USC and Michigan.

“I just like the farther schools,” he told Trieu. “I’ve always wanted to go up north and see how it is up there. I see them on TV and my perspective is that they’re good schools.”

Sopsher was named to the MaxPreps Junior All-American Football Team as a first-team selection. His 247Sports evaluation describes him as a force in the trenches: “He has a great frame, he plays with power and he is only going to get better. He relies on his size and natural strength to win many battles now, so he needs to improve his technique and his stamina. He plays hard when the whistle blows, but he can slow down as the play develops and as the game progresses.

“He moves very well for a lineman of his size and he can get up the field to make plays. He plays a lot of five-technique now, and he could play that in a 3-4 scheme on the next level, but he may have the most upside moving inside to defensive tackle. He can bull rush and use initial quickness to get into the backfield. As he develops he could be one of the best in his class.”

The post Wisconsin recruiting: QB commit Graham Mertz dazzles at Army combine; 5-star DT Ishmael Sophsher interested in Badgers appeared first on Land of 10.

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