first_img“All hail the transfer quarterback” was the expression left ringing through Madison at Russell Wilson’s departure. Then Danny O’Brien flipped the script in less-than-extraordinary fashion. Now it’s Tanner McEvoy’s turn, kind of.The JUCO transfer from Arizona Western Community College chose Wisconsin as his fall destination back in early February and arrived with a hill to climb in hopes of becoming the starting quarterback. He also arrived with the backing of new head coach Gary Andersen, who recruited McEvoy with the intent of playing him at quarterback.Eventually, that hill was too high for McEvoy to ascend. He entered fall camp in the middle of a three-horse race for the pole position in the Wisconsin offense. His competition was redshirt sophomore Joel Stave and sixth-year senior Curt Phillips. His competition had multiple years on him, hundreds of days in the Wisconsin weight room and plenty of practices at Camp Randall or the McClain Center. That competition ended up being too much.“Yeah, it was difficult to come in after the spring, not having the same opportunities as the other guys,” McEvoy said. “But I knew what I signed up for, and we’ll see where it goes from here.”From here means a new direction for the dual-threat quarterback – heralded as the top such passer in junior college football. All dual-threat quarterbacks are lauded for their mobility, but there isn’t a dual-threat quarterback across the nation that moved quite like McEvoy has the last few years.He was a South Carolina Gamecock, then an AWCC Matador and now a Wisconsin Badger. He was a backup quarterback, quickly a starting quarterback, and with each passing day he’s looking more and more like a wide receiver.After being essentially eliminated from the quarterback carousel midway through August, McEvoy quickly found himself taking reps at receiver. Then he soared for a touchdown catch over redshirt sophomore Darius Hillary in practice and recaught the attention of anyone whose eyes had briefly strayed from the man wearing No. 5.Playing wide receiver might be a new direction as a Badger, but it’s not a completely new direction for McEvoy himself, who actually only started playing quarterback his senior year in high school. Until then, it had been all receiver for the Hillsdale, N.J. native.And he was good enough as a pass-catcher to receive “a bunch of offers at receiver coming out of high school” before his final-year position change. He hasn’t run a route in more than three years, but that doesn’t mean he can’t shake off a little rust. He caught the attention of his new position competitor redshirt sophomore Jordan Frederick.“They tried him out last week and on the first play he made a great play,” Frederick said. “He had it all with him on one play. You can see how natural he is, moving around. It’s going to take some time to be that star right away, but he’s got some attributes to him that can definitely help this team.”It’s ironic because for McEvoy to help the team, now sitting at the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart, it might be Frederick that takes a backseat to McEvoy as he tries to make an impact at receiver.Frederick was named the No. 2 wideout on Wisconsin’s first depth chart of the season, but the second wide receiver spot behind redshirt senior Jared Abbrederis has generally been murky since the graduation of Nick Toon two seasons ago. Although he will start the season with the job, McEvoy will be adding another layer to the seemingly never-ending catching competition.“[McEvoy] might actually be our No. 2 receiver,” redshirt freshman Bart Houston, another quarterback, reasoned. “The dude runs like a deer. He’s fast, he’s athletic, he can jump … We’re using his talents wherever we can.”Houston continued with the idea that later on in the season, although McEvoy lost out on the starting quarterback spot, Wisconsin could have a package for the intriguing player.McEvoy alluded to the same thought of a McEvoy-package coming into play later on in the season, once he gets full control of his duties as a receiver. When asked if Wisconsin fans could see a game where he would catch a pass as well as receive one McEvoy promptly responded, “Oh, yeah. Definitely.”And if the Tanner McEvoy story wasn’t interesting enough, during a teleconference last Tuesday, Andersen expressed the idea of McEvoy also contributing on defense. Although McEvoy assured it was simply for late-game Hail Mary defending purposes, the possibility of using his 6-foot-6 frame to lend a hand on defense couldn’t come as a surprise.Although the Badgers’ coaching staff has been bouncing him around from position to position, McEvoy continues to wear the black quarterback jersey in practice, though now, if he’s catching passes, defenders can actually hit him. He’s seen a lot of change in his short time in Madison, but according to McEvoy, he still has the same identity now that he arrived at Madison with.“I’m a dual-threat quarterback who is now starting to play a little receiver on the side,” McEvoy said. “And I should help these guys win a couple games.”Put it all together and he is probably the most compelling third-string quarterback in college football.last_img