WR/QB/DEF Tanner McEvoy Is Wisconsin Football's Renaissance Man
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
When Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen came into the fold in December, he set out to mold his team in the image that best fit the Badgers' current identity and his own philosophies on football.
One thing he identified was the need to add an extra dimension to the quarterback position. Andersen went out and just before National Signing Day added the No. 1 dual-threat juco quarterback in the country: Tanner McEvoy.
However, McEvoy's journey at Wisconsin hasn't gone exactly as planned since.
Instead of coming in and winning the quarterback job, he played third fiddle to both Joel Stave and Curt Phillips all fall camp. Now, as reported by Tom Mulhern of the Wisconsin State Journal, he's likely to see the field any number of ways —just consider him the Badgers' version of a "Renaissance man," if you will.
Andersen made it clear that McEvoy, a wide receiver for the first three years of his high school career, would get the chance to play some quarterback in 2013, but he also made it clear that McEvoy would also be making contributions as a wide receiver most of all and perhaps even add a little defensive flare to his game as well.
“He’s still going to do some things at quarterback, without question,” Andersen said during Monday's press conference. “He’ll be involved there. That’s something we want and Tanner wants.
“He is going to be involved as a wide receiver. We’ll see him in some different positions, he’s so athletic. We need to get him on the field. It’s not out of the question, that you may see Tanner back there doing a few things, in even some defensive situations, because he is a very talented young man and he wants to get on the field, he wants to play."
It remains to be seen how much of this will play out in the opener on Saturday against UMass. But Andersen believes McEvoy will have an impact on the game.
Some may consider this a failed experiment at quarterback, but that's not how Andersen or apparently McEvoy see the situation. Instead, the final decision on how to see the field in 2013 was left up to McEvoy, who was more than fine with playing any role to help the team win this season.
#Badgers Tanner McEvoy estimated that he's spending 75-percent of his time at practice working as a wide receiver and 25-percent at QB.— Zach Heilprin (@ZachHeilprin) August 27, 2013
Perhaps that means McEvoy could become a little bit of a "secret weapon" that Andersen and offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig pull out of their bag of tricks when needed.
Despite the "Renaissance man" tag, expect McEvoy's greatest contributions to come at the position he was molded to play throughout high school—wide receiver. He'll do all of that while also learning his craft at quarterback in the hopes of helping there next season.
“His time at quarterback may be ahead of him, we’ll see how it goes,” Andersen stated. “He’s talented enough and he’s definitely smart enough to affect the game in a positive way on Saturday, I believe.”
With not much in the way of proven depth behind star wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, McEvoy's knowledge of the position and athletic ability could be a welcome sight to the group as they seek to prove there's more to them than just Abbrederis in 2013.
Jordan Fredrick, the named starter for Week 1 at the position opposite of Abbrederis is coming off of a season in which he caught all of 17 passes to put him second on the team. In total, the rest of Wisconsin's wide receivers couldn't even combine to equal the 49 receptions that Abbrederis had on his own last year.
That won't cut it this year in Andy Ludwig's offensive scheme, one that is predicated on running the ball and stretching the field in the passing game.
With Wisconsin in need of more playmakers at the position, it isn't out of the realm of possibility that McEvoy makes significant contributions in a number of ways, even if it's not exactly how Andersen or McEvoy dreamed it up back in February.
(all quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise noted)
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