Wisconsin football: Tanner McEvoy in heavy use among two-way players
MADISON, Wis. — Tanner McEvoy rarely has time to spare at No. 24 Wisconsin.
One minute, the senior will be watching film with the Badgers receivers. The next minute he might be breaking down an opposing offense with the defensive backs. When the team is on the field for special teams drills, McEvoy might catch up with his wideouts coach one day and the safeties coach the next.
Call him "Two-Way Tanner."
In his debut last week as receiver and safety, he had three catches for 29 yards on offense along with a tackle and 41-yard interception on defense in a 58-0 rout of Miami (Ohio).
He is one of just two major college players this season to record a reception and interception in the same game. Vernon Hargreaves III accomplished the same feat for Florida on Sept. 5 against New Mexico State.
Hargreaves, though, is just dabbling at receiver with the Gators looking for more offensive playmakers. He is considered one of the best cornerbacks in the Southeastern Conference.
McEvoy was a true dual threat against the rebuilding RedHawks. He played about 70-plus snaps against Miami, with more than 50 coming at safety.
"I wasn't too sore, not more than any other game," McEvoy said.
The 6-foot-6 McEvoy has taken an unusual road to his new role. He arrived at Wisconsin as a dual-threat quarterback after being recruited out of junior college by former coach Gary Andersen.
The defensive-minded Andersen is gone and the quarterback experiment with McEvoy is over. New coach Paul Chryst, whose specialty is offense, approached McEvoy before spring practice about a potential new dual role as receiver and safety — positions that he had played before at Wisconsin at separate times.
"I think just in being around him, his football IQ, his awareness of the game, that was pretty evident early," Chryst said. "Then athletically, I think he's a pretty unique athlete, big, skilled guy."
The debut was a success. McEvoy is listed as the starter at receiver and safety for this weekend's game against Troy.
On offense, McEvoy must be accounted for as a potential running and passing option even at receiver given his pedigree. At safety, McEvoy provides an athletic, rangy presence as a security blanket who can track down deep balls.
Other players seeing snaps on both sides of the ball this year, though not quite as extensively as McEvoy:
HARGREAVES: Coach Jim McElwain wants more playmakers on offense. Florida's diverse receiving corps includes a former defensive back (Valdez Showers), a former running back (Brandon Powell), the team's third-string quarterback (Josh Grady) and a number of recruiting busts.
Consider Hargreaves a work in progress on offense. He caught one pass for 6 yards in the opener but also fumbled out of bounds at the end of the play. He missed last week's game with a leg injury.
"We have packages we build for him week to week," McElwain said. "Maybe you don't use it in a game, but then you keep using it and polishing it until it's game ready."
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MYLES JACK, UCLA: The star linebacker moonlights as a short-yardage running back. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound Jack scored his 11th career offensive touchdown in the season opener against Virginia. Jack, a junior, was the first player in Pac-12 history to be selected as both the Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.
ROBERT NKEMDICHE, MISSISSIPPI: This 296-pound defensive tackle gets used on offense only a few special packages.
Linebackers need to brace themselves when Nkemdiche does comes trucking their way. He caught a 31-yard pass in the team's opener against UT Martin and ran for a 1-yard touchdown last week against Fresno State.
"Anytime we can use the kids within our team to be successful, we try to do that," coach Hugh Freeze said. "Robert is definitely one of those guys that will help in any way that he can."
V'ANGELO BENTLEY, ILLINOIS: The cornerback and return man also lines up at receiver a few downs a game. The senior has one carry for 5 yards on an end around. He's also 0-1 passing. Bentley is the only player in Illinois history to return a kick, punt, interception and fumble for touchdowns in his career.
AP Sports Writers Mark Long in Gainesville, Florida, and David Brandt in Oxford, Mississippi, and Associated Press writer David Mercer in Champaign, Illinois, contributed to this report.
This article was written by Genaro C. Armas from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.