June 19, 2024

Graham Mertz did not ask to wear the Florida Gators’ iconic No. 15 jersey when he transferred from Wisconsin. Tim Tebow’s number simply showed up in his locker one day, perhaps as a message from coach Billy Napier.

“You could say that,” Mertz said Saturday in his first meeting with Florida reporters.

UF, of course, would love for the blue-chip talent to rejuvenate the Gators the way Tebow did under Urban Meyer. Mertz would, too. He is appreciative of the history and understands how No. 15 “was bigger than me.”

For the most part of his tenure here, I was among Mertz’s strongest supporters. By all accounts, he was a decent man and a good ambassador of our university off the field, so I’ll be cheering for him. Despite some difficult circumstances he had to face, I did appreciate him for accepting responsibility and for always speaking the correct things in interviews.

Having said that, I was unable to support him at the end. He has always shown sparks, but consistency was never there, and he had two or three head scratches for every all-star game. He didn’t help himself, but he also didn’t help the offense or talent. Seldom did it seem like he was taking control or elevating the team. Whether you overthrow or underthrow a wide-open receiver won’t matter how good they are. You kind of simply become who you are at a certain time.began the season as a starter in the first 11 games before suffering an injury that prevented him from playing in the championship game… finished with a career-low three interceptions and matching his career-best four rushing scores.




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