Senior Spotlight: Wisconsin Football’s Tanner McEvoy


Badger of Honor continues its series of profiles on Wisconsin Football’s senior class with Tanner McEvoy, the freakish athlete who is probably the most fascinating player on the team.

READ ALSO: Senior Spotlight: Wisconsin Football’s Joe Schobert

He transferred from a junior college called Arizona Western, where he put up huge numbers as a dual-threat quarterback. He came to Wisconsin in hopes of being their starting quarterback. However, due to a hand injury and not having enough time to learn the offense, he was never even considered for the  job. But knowing that McEvoy is a 6 foot 6, 240 pound, exceptional athlete who runs a 4.4 40 yard-dash, Gary Andersen felt that he needed to be on the field (one of the only good calls he’d ever make), so McEvoy played safety.

Tanner McEvoy carries the ball during the 2014 game against Nebraska. Jim Oxley photo

McEvoy earned plenty of playing time at safety as a sophomore, playing in 11 games, including 3 starts. He was highly productive, recording 27 tackles, 1 interception, and 4 pass breakups. It looked like he was all set to be the safety of the future.

But, instead of starting his junior season in the secondary, Andersen wanted to use his dual-threat abilities at quarterback, a decision that would prove disastrous. McEvoy struggled with his accuracy, arm strength, and decision making right off the bat. He nearly single handedly blew the season opener versus LSU, completing only 8 of his 24 passing attempts for 50 yards and 2 picks. After an awful first half in the fifth game of the season, he was benched for the newly yipless (?) Joel Stave.

Despite being benched, McEvoy still took snaps at quarterback in a read-option package that was very successful. He ended the season with 574 rushing yards, a new single season record for Wisconsin quarterbacks. He averaged 8.8 yards a carry, which was highest among all FBS quarterbacks and second among all eligible players.

After Gary Andersen took a huge step down to Oregon State, Barry Alvarez played McEvoy at safety in the Outback Bowl against Auburn, where he recorded his career-high 5 tackles.

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So what’s next for McEvoy? It looks like he’ll start the season next to Michael Caputo at safety, and will use his athleticism to be a ball hawk in the passing game. With his size and speed, he should be able to record at least 60 tackles and multiple interceptions and pass breakups.

McEvoy is also set to contribute at Wide Receiver. I think this move is genius. It makes complete sense. Not many defensive backs are going to look forward to covering a guy who is that tall and quick. He should be a matchup nightmare, and after taking a quick look at Wisconsin underwhelming receiver corps, I think he has a great chance to earn playing time, maybe as the number 3/4 WR. It’s not unreasonable to see him catching for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns.

I also wouldn’t be opposed to McEvoy being involved in more read-option packages. It worked really well last season in moderation.

However, that may be a little overwhelming. Learning all the plays for one position is a lot. Learning two is very difficult. Three may be nearly impossible.

Whatever the case may be, Tanner McEvoy is certainly one of the most intriguing players in the country. He has the talent and athleticism to be one of the best two-way players college football has seen in a while.

Next: Senior Spotlight: Wisconsin Football's Alex Erickson

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