Chase Wolf’s injury hinders No. 18 Wisconsin’s quarterback depth

Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin’s quarterback depth has taken a hit heading into the 18th-ranked Badgers’ season opener.

Backup quarterback Chase Wolf has injured his right leg and is out for an indefinite length of time. That leaves starter Graham Mertz as the only available Wisconsin quarterback who has taken a snap in a college game.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said the injury happened last week and indicated he doesn’t know how much time Wolf will miss. The Badgers open their season by hosting Football Championship Subdivision program Illinois State.

“Just offering up all my prayers to him,” Mertz said. “He’s in surgery probably here in a little bit. Obviously, you never want to see your buddy go down.”

Wisconsin’s remaining quarterbacks behind Mertz are redshirt freshman Deacon Hill and true freshmen Myles Burkett and Marshall Howe. Burkett was on campus for spring practice.

“I couldn’t sit here right now and tell you who’s further ahead or not,” Chryst said.

Chryst did note that Hill “certainly has had more overall reps.”

Wolf was 15 of 25 for 155 yards with four interceptions and two touchdown passes over the last three seasons. He went 8 of 16 for 124 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown last season, and he played most of the second half of a loss to Michigan after Mertz was injured.

“You feel terrible for him because I really liked what he was doing in camp,” Chryst said. “The one thing I know is Chase will stay in it. When he can get back, he’ll be ready to go.”

Mertz said the lack of experience behind him won’t impact his approach on the field.

“It doesn’t affect any how I play,” Mertz said. “I don’t think it should.”

Mertz completed 59.5% of his passes for 1,958 yards with 11 interceptions and 10 touchdown passes last season. He owns a 13-7 career record as a starter.

In the 13 wins, Mertz has thrown 16 touchdown passes with four interceptions. In the seven losses, he has thrown 12 interceptions and three touchdown passes.

“You’re seeing a guy that’s gone through all that and has found a way to keep coming out the other end,” Chryst said. “If you can do that and learn from it, that’s a good thing. I’ve loved the way he’s approached that.”

Wisconsin also announced that safety Travian Blaylock, defensive end Mike Jarvis, and linebacker Luna Larson are out for the season with injured right legs. Offensive lineman Tanor Bortoloni, tight end Cam Large, linebacker Spencer Lytle, defensive end Isaac Townsend and outside linebacker Aaron Witt have leg injuries that will prevent them from playing.

Blaylock had 21 tackles last season and was expected to have a bigger role this year until he got hurt in spring practice. The Badgers have since added Utah transfer Kamo'i Latu to boost their safety depth behind starters John Torchio and Hunter Wohler.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.