Rivals.com - What #RivalsChallenge QBs are looking for in their destinations
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What #RivalsChallenge QBs are looking for in their destinations

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Sam Howell
Sam Howell

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ATLANTA - When Graham Mertz was picking a school, he didn’t care about facilities or alternative helmets or how cool the stadiums were on visits.

For the four-star quarterback from Overland Park (Kan.) Blue Valley North who committed to Wisconsin, none of that ancillary stuff mattered.

“I couldn’t care less about uniforms,” Mertz said at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas Media Day. “Wisconsin has one helmet. They have a different face mask, and that’s all you need. You only need one.”

Quarterbacks have a different mindset on visits. They want to understand how the head coach, offensive coordinator and position coach envision using them in the offense. They study which system fits their style best.

Seeing the high-tech facilities are far down the list.

“I just wanted to get to know the coaching staff,” Florida State quarterback commit Sam Howell said “I really like coach (Willie) Taggart and (offensive coordinator Walt) Bell. I fit in very well with what they’re trying to do at Florida State, so I fell in love with those guys. We’re going to have a lot of success there.

“There are way more important things to think about, especially for a quarterback. Everybody is going to have cool facilities.”

Auburn quarterback pledge Bo Nix jelled with coach Gus Malzahn, especially since Malzahn is known as an offensive coach. Coordinators and position coaches are also crucial, but Nix said the guy in charge is most important.

“I was looking at the atmosphere of the university and where I could see myself going to school for three or four years,” Nix said. “I looked at the stadium, the atmosphere, the environment, the facilities had a little to do with it because you want to be around great equipment.

“The coaching staff was big, because I knew coach Malzahn is going to be there for a while, so that was a great security blanket to finish things off. If I had to pick, I’d say head coach is most important. He’s the head coach and he makes the ultimate decisions, but OC is important and the QB coach has a great impact on quarterbacks.”

For Mertz, how coach Paul Chryst and quarterbacks coach Jon Budmayr worked together was another selling point for the Badgers. That mind-meld was a crucial factor why the Badgers won out after late pushes from Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame and others.

“A lot of guys look for all the flash and stuff, but it’s different at the quarterback position,” Mertz said. “It’s about how you fit as a quarterback in the system and what can prepare you best for your future.

“It’s the relationship they have together. I know at Wisconsin, Coach Budmayr and Coach Chryst have a great relationship. He played under him, they know each other and how they feed off each other and that’s a great thing to have.”

Flashy uniforms and high-tech facilities are nice. But for quarterbacks, maybe not so important. At all.

“I picked Auburn and they’ve been traditional forever, so that wasn’t a big deal at all,” Nix said.