If you've had some difficulty keeping up with Ohio State's 2019 quarterback recruiting, then you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. The Buckeyes have seemingly hopped from target to target, offer to offer, and the picture is still quite hazy as it pertains to the most important position on the field.
We've mentioned this multiple times, but it bears repeating once again: the 2019 class is not a good when it comes to quarterback play. Also worth mentioning again: Ohio State is going to take a quarterback this cycle.
Dwayne Haskins is entering his redshirt sophomore season and Tate Martell is a redshirt freshman. Matthew Baldwin is bouncing back from a torn ACL in his first season in Columbus. The departure of Joe Burrow was hardly a lethal blow to the position, but it has led to a bit of inexperience at quarterback.
Last month we took a look at the murky 2019 quarterback picture. To say that things have changed since then would be a vast understatement.
There's a lot of uncertainty at the position right now, but I think if there's one thing that most can agree on it's probably that Grant Gunnell is the top target on the board. He's currently uncommitted and has already taken his official visit to Ohio State. A decision is expected this summer, but it's hardly a done deal to the good guys.
If I could turn back time – and if I could find a wayyyyyy – I'd probably word things in a slightly different fashion. It's true; it did seem as though Gunnell was the guy the staff had locked in on. There was a window of time when things seemed to be done and the Texan was all but delivered to Ohio State.
And then some strange things happened. The Buckeyes turned up the heat elsewhere, extended new offers, and Grant Gunnell pledged to his old friend Kevin Sumlin and the Arizona Wildcats. So now, with the summer months upon us, it may be safe to take another stab at who the Buckeyes are focusing on at quarterback.
Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz is a player that Ohio State identified early on as the four-star actually earned an offer a month before the aforementioned Gunnell. He's been there all along, we probably just haven't been talking about him enough because of his status as a Wisconsin pledge.
The country's No. 5 pro-style passer has been a Badger commit since last October. Can the Buckeyes flip another Big Ten quarterback commit much like they did with Haskins in 2016?
Mertz is in a similar mold as most of the other quarterbacks the Buckeyes have been targeting. He's got the ideal size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and is more of a pure passer. Rated as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Kansas, he's certainly more of a Dwayne Haskins than he is a J.T. Barrett.
Rivals.com's Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt offered his analysis on Mertz from the Rivals Camp Series. That report can be found right HERE in nifty video form. The gunslinger has already made the Elite 11 Finals and will be on hand for Nike's The Opening on June 30. Our very own Andrew Lind will also be in Dallas for the festivities.
So what's the story on the four-star Blue Valley North High School signal-caller?
Mertz was offered by the Badgers in September of 2017. At the time, his only other offers were from Kansas and Minnesota. He announced his commitment to Wisconsin in October; just a few weeks after earning the offer. Since that time, he's received offers from all over the country including Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Georgia, and Oregon.
Wisconsin may not be one of the country's recruiting juggernauts, but that likely doesn't matter in this instance. The Badgers were on Mertz early on and he's been to Madison about a half dozen times in the last year. He has a tremendous relationship with the Wisconsin staff, and that's going to be tough for any team to top.
Things got a bit more interesting last month when Mertz stopped by Ohio State to scope things out a bit. Things are even more interesting now after something changed in the Gunnell recruitment, and some folks close to a completely unrelated Big Ten program – who seem to have some serious knowledge on the situation – insist that the four-star will end up somewhere other than Madison.
That is where things get a bit tricky.
If Mertz does elect to open things up, the beneficiary is very likely to be one of two schools. The Buckeyes have been in regular contact and at this point it certainly seems as though Mertz is at the top of the wish list. However, Notre Dame has also been a serious factor in this recruitment. The Irish offer was reportedly one that he really coveted, and Brian Kelly is still looking for his 2019 quarterback.
This is going to be one of the situations that should be monitored closely in the coming months. Articles and interviews will continue to pour in that say Wisconsin is in a great spot and all of that usual stuff, but if Mertz shows up in Columbus or South Bend again, then one has to think that it's officially game on for the early enrollee.
For now it looks like the Overland Park, Kansas star is the guy that Urban Meyer and Ryan Day truly covet at quarterback, and you can bet they'll be trying to get him on campus once again this summer.