Kelly Bryant announced he is transferring from Clemson. Would he be a good fit with Wisconsin Football?
The Badgers have struggled in the past to develop game-changing quarterbacks. It’s arguable that the greatest quarterback in Wisconsin football history was Russell Wilson, a dual-threat graduate transfer that only played one season in Madison.
Kelly Bryant is going to redshirt this year and become a graduate transfer that will be immediately eligible to play next year. Graduate transfers are as close as it gets to free agents in college football. A program that saw such great success with its last graduate transfer quarterback should make a ton of sense to go after Kelly Bryant then, right?
The quarterback landscape at Wisconsin is headlined by two major names. Next year Alex Hornibrook will be a senior and on his way to being one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Badger history. He’s played significant time since he was a freshman and the offense has been his to lead since his sophomore year last year.
The other big name is Graham Mertz, the highest rated Wisconsin quarterback prospect in recent history, who will be a true freshman next year. With the new redshirt rule that allows student-athletes to play in any four games and still retain a year of eligibility, it’s possible Mertz plays some early in the year then redshirts. It’s very unlikely he beats out Hornibrook, or any of the other current backups, for the job.
Kelly Bryant would bring some competition to the position along with unrivaled experience. Bryant led his Clemson team to a conference championship and the College Football Playoff. That’s not something many programs can claim of their quarterbacks. Wisconsin included.
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Bryant is a true dual-threat quarterback. Last year he threw for only 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he ran for 665 yards and 11 more scores on the ground. He’s not a bad passer though. Last season he completed over 65% of his passes and so far this year he has completed 66%.
With Wisconsin’s history of playing great defense and being able to run the ball effectively, it seems like it’s always just a strong quarterback away from competing for a national title. The closest the Badgers have come to such glory was with Russell Wilson in 2011 and Alex Hornibrook last year.
Hornibrook is the kind of quarterback that can get the job done week in and week out and occasionally elevate his game to levels that we’ve seen in the Orange Bowl and against Iowa last weekend. How the rest of this year plays out will determine what we expect from Hornibrook in his senior season but we know one thing is for sure. He is not a dual-threat from the quarterback position.
Bringing in Bryant as a graduate transfer would muddy up the quarterback position without a doubt. But it would also give the Badgers a national championship caliber weapon that most programs simply don’t have. The comparison to 2011 and Russell Wilson would write themselves and Wisconsin’s offense would become one of the most dynamic in the country.
Wisconsin isn’t the kind of program that usually seeks out these kinds of moves, especially with Hornibrook and Mertz already on board, but if Bryant wants to go to a program where he can make an instant impact and help turn his team into a true contender there aren’t many better places than Madison, Wisconsin.