By: Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | December 13, 2018
Blue Valley North (Mission, Kan.) quarterback Graham Mertz received his All-American Bowl jersey Thursday at his school as part of the All-American Bowl Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance.
“I always grew up watching the game and guys like Drew Locke” Mertz told USA TODAY. “To see it happen to me is a bit surreal.
“When I made the move to Blue Valley North, after the season we won state and offers started rolling in I thought I had a shot at it. I went down to the 5-star camp and then got the offer.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound quarterback is the fourth-ranked pro style quarterback in the nation, and the No. 1 overall recruit from the state of Kansas, according to 247Sports.
He committed to Wisconsin after taking his official visit to Madison, and despite additional attention from plenty of other programs, Mertz insists his bond with the Badgers has only grown stronger since.
“Throughout the recruiting process, I got to get advice from my two sisters, who both went through recruiting for girls basketball,” Mertz said. “They both said that once you feel it, you feel it. Wisconsin was my second offer, and after I committed all the other offers came in, but that eventually just made my bond with them stronger. It really validated my decision.”
With the season under wraps, Mertz has shifted his focus to preparation for Wisconsin and the All-American Bowl beforehand. That means lots of studying the playbook, as well as keeping a keen eye on the Badgers’ bowl. And juggling, of course. No, really.
“You may not believe this, but I’m very skilled at juggling,” Mertz said. “I heard there is a contest in San Antonio, and I’m winning that thing for sure. I can juggle three of anything, though I’m still working on learning to juggle fours. I had a teacher in third grade who taught us all how to juggle before class, and I just kept doing it. I do it with footballs before practice.”
Now that will be some entertainment for the the All-American Bowl, which is scheduled for Jan. 5 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised live on NBC at 1 p.m. EST.