MADISON -- Tanner McEvoy likely couldn't have envisioned the experience he's had thus far at Wisconsin. The junior quarterback transferred from Arizona Western to Wisconsin last season, but never saw the field as a quarterback. Because of his athleticism, UW's coaching staff tried to find various ways to get him on the field in some capacity. McEvoy was first tried at wide receiver late in summer camp, but soon the 6'6 Hillsdale, N.J., native was moved to safety, where he found much more success and played a pivotal role on the defense late in the season.
This year, McEvoy has his sights again set on the starting quarterback role. For most of spring, he has been taking first-team reps, particularly in light of Joel Stave's lingering shoulder issues. The few weeks that Stave was back, he and McEvoy took mostly equal reps with the first team. McEvoy has a similar arm to Stave's, is a very cerebral player and has an element of escapability that Stave lacks. Thus far, McEvoy says his spring has gone well.
"I think it has gone great. I think the whole team has gotten a lot better this spring, and that's the goal," McEvoy said. "We just have to come out here and compete and that is what we are doing."
More Spring Ball
More Spring Ball
McEvoy did also touch on some frustrating aspects of the spring. He said that not having a full arsenal of wide receivers has been difficult at times, but you have to keep going along with things and move forward with whomever is available. McEvoy did say he thinks the offense as a unit has gelled well, and he thinks it will show in Saturday's spring game.
McEvoy went on to say Kenzel Doe has been the most impressive wide receiver thus far, but that rest of the group has impressed, too.
"Kenzel is the most experienced guy out there, so I guess [he's been the most impressive]. All of them have really stepped up. We even had a guy come over from defense and give us some help with A.J. [Jordan]."
The quarterback said his health has not been an issue this spring and he has been happy to stay on the field and take as many reps as possible. McEvoy believes his time over on the defensive side of the ball may prove valuable as he duels for the starting position.
"Just having another year, being here, has been helpful, but I think playing on defense has helped me a little bit," McEvoy said. "Just being out there and playing, getting experience in games situations, traveling with the guys and getting to know them better has made things better for me."
This year, McEvoy wants to focus exclusively on quarterback. He feels that his running ability and arm set him apart from some of the other quarterbacks on the roster. In practice, the coaching staff has shown confidence in McEvoy's speed to call quarterback read options and give him the choice to hand the ball off or take it himself.
"I am trying to be the best quarterback that I can be," McEvoy said. "I guess I am more mobile, but I think I am a good passer. Footwork, presence in the pocket, knowing the offense, quickening my release, getting my release point higher [are areas to work on], the list goes on. There is plenty to work on."
McEvoy seemed very focused and confident in his abilities. It has shown on the field, too. He has displayed an understanding of the offense and composure in the pocket.
"I am trying to play quarterback this year. That is my goal. It is why I came back over [from defense]. It's not my decision. I just have to come out here and compete and let the coaches decide from there."