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When Graham Mertz Could Return At Quarterback For Wisconsin

Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz, a rising Big Ten star, on Saturday.

MADISON, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 07: Graham Mertz #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas at Camp Randall Stadium on September 07, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Just a couple days after Graham Mertz lit it up in Wisconsin's season opener, the Badgers quarterback tested positive for COVID-19. A second positive test on Tuesday morning confirmed Mertz' diagnosis.

Under Big Ten protocol, the redshirt freshman will be forced to sit out for 21 days following his first positive test.

The conference implemented an extended quarantine period to account for heart-health concerns that contributed heavily to the Big Ten's delayed start.

College football insider Dennis Dodd outlined the process for heart-health screening: “Mertz will also have to undergo extensive cardiac testing to investigate any long-term conditions that could arise from COVID-19 including myocarditis.” While Mertz is confirmed out for the Badgers' next two games against Nebraska and Purdue, there is still a chance the QB could suit up for their marquee matchup with Michigan in three weeks. If Mertz was tested on Saturday, his quarantine period would be up ahead of the game in Ann Arbor.

Losing Mertz is a huge blow to a Wisconsin offense that came out firing this season with a 45-7 blowout of Illinois. Mertz had an incredible opening game, throwing 20/21 for 248 yards and a staggering five touchdowns. The redshirt freshman broke the program record for single-game passing percentage and tied the record for passing touchdowns.

Wisconsin faithful are no doubt hoping for a speedy recovery as the quarterback situation is looking bleak for the Badgers. Original starter Jack Coan is out indefinitely with a foot injury and third-stringer Chase Wolf has also tested positive for the virus. From the looks of things an inexperienced fourth-string QB in Danny Vanden Boom will lead the Wisconsin offense for the next couple weeks.

All Badgers fans can do now is hope Mertz makes his return before a tough game vs. No. 13 Michigan on Nov. 14.