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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Football: McEvoy does it all for Badgers on both sides of ball

Joey Reuteman

After the Wisconsin football team’s 58-0 trouncing of Miami (Ohio) Saturday, Tanner McEvoy said he feels like he’s playing pickup football with his buddies.

Probably because McEvoy played like the kid that’s bigger and stronger than all of his classmates on the blacktop during recess — running the ball, catching passes, making tackles and intercepting balls, all with supreme ease.

That’s exactly what McEvoy displayed on the turf of Camp Randall Stadium Saturday.


He ran. He caught. He covered. He tackled. All in the same game. All in a day’s work for McEvoy.

And he excelled at it all, playing at both safety and wide receiver, and even taking a direct snap in Wisconsin’s wildcat formation.

For the Badgers to be at their best, UW head coach Paul Chryst said, they need him on the field as much as possible — just like the kid on the blacktop.

“He’s got great football intelligence, and I think he’s a talented football player, and I think he’s a guy that can help make us different offensively and defensively,” Chryst said. “We were able to do some different things in the back end defensively … I think he needed to do that for us, for us to be the best.”

Early in the second quarter, McEvoy recorded his first reception since he was a junior in high school, a nine-yard bubble screen from quarterback Joel Stave.

Those are the kind of routes for McEvoy that Stave envisions will give defenses fits.

“If you can get him on the edges and in space in one-on-one situations, I think he’s a guy who can be pretty dangerous with the ball in his hands,” Stave said.

Good luck to those defensive backs who encounter McEvoy one-on-one in open space. The fifth-year senior from Hillsdale, New Jersey is listed at 6-foot-6 and 231 pounds.

McEvoy finished Saturday with three catches and 29 yards, his longest reception going for 17 yards.

He also lined up at quarterback, a position he started at the first four games of 2014, before being benched for Stave and only coming in to run the option.

But this time, it was part of Wisconsin’s new wildcat scheme. Last week was the first time the Badgers practiced it, McEvoy said.

Tack defensive responsibilites onto McEvoy’s plate. He started at safety for the Badgers in addition to his offensive reps.

Playing both ways is something McEvoy doesn’t take for granted.

“I see it as an opportunity. I got to make the most of this opportunity that I’m getting,” McEvoy said. “Coach [Chryst] believes that I can go both ways, and physically I felt good today, which was nice … it was fun to do.”

McEvoy was around the ball all day, and recorded his first interception since 2013 in the second quarter. He stepped up in man coverage, read the quarterback’s eyes and snatched the ball.

Then, the race was on. Because when Tanner McEvoy has the ball in his hands, he’s only thinking end zone, a product of his quarterback mentality. But he was dragged down at the four-yard line after a 41-yard return.

“I wish I would’ve scored,” McEvoy said.

McEvoy was on the field for 73 plays Saturday. Chryst and the rest of the coaching staff closely monitored his reps, but after a conversation Friday between McEvoy and Chryst, the plan was to have McEvoy alert the coaches when he got winded.

That moment didn’t come Saturday, McEvoy said, because of the numerous television timeouts during college football games.

McEvoy excels in all facets of football for a variety of reasons. One, Stave said, is his pure athleticism.

“He’s just got some very natural size that you can’t really teach — the way he can go up and attack the ball,” Stave said. “And he’s got some sneaky speed that people may not give him as much credit for.”

Another is that he’s all over the football field, which he uses to his advantage.

McEvoy takes what he learned on one side of the ball and applies it to the other, he said. Playing quarterback helped him understand coverage, and playing safety has helped him transition to wide receiver.

“I try to build my football IQ every year. I think it’s gotten better,” McEvoy said. “I’ve tried to take what I learned at quarterback and use it on defense, use it at receiver. It all kind of carries over.”

Leo Musso, a redshirt junior safety who plays in the secondary with McEvoy had one word to describe McEvoy’s Saturday performance: awesome.

“He’s everywhere,” Musso said. “He’s catching everything, making plays on the back end, making plays on offense, it was cool to see.”

Sounds like the kid that dominates pickup games with his buddies.

Tanner McEvoy was that kid. He’s just doing it again.

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