Ever since the University of Wisconsin held its annual spring game last Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, the buzz coming from the sidelines was primarily focused around the quarterback position. Coming in to the game, many considered Joel Stave and Curt Phillips the two frontrunners for the starting quarterback position for the Badgers next fall, and nothing changed that perception afterwards either.
Both kids played well, but if you ask those close to the program or anyone who watched the game, the general consensus was that Stave should enter fall camp as the first-string quarterback. The redshirt sophomore completed 15 of his 20 pass attempts for 161 yards and a touchdown, while Phillips (who did play well) went 8-for-13 and 82 yards during his limited time under center.
But before we anoint either of these two signal-callers as the starter for the Badgers come week one of the 2013 season, there is still a potential “X Factor” that could change everything we think we know about what the Wisconsin offense will look like, and his name is Tanner McEvoy.
McEvoy, a junior college transfer from Arizona Western College, was rated by some recruiting services as the top junior college dual-threat quarterback in the country and chose to play for new head coach Gary Andersen the Badgers over offers from the Florida Gators, Oregon Ducks and West Virginia Mountaineers.
One would have to believe that since McEvoy —a demonstrable figure behind the center at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds—shunned those other top programs in favor of finishing his college career in Madison, WI, he has to feel good about his chances of coming in and taking over the starting position come fall camp.
While I have no qualms or issues with either Stave or Phillips (they both did a decent job for Wisconsin during the tumultuous 2012 season), neither of them display the athleticism or physical attributes McEvoy brings to the position. He has the ability to beat teams with his arm as well as his feet.
Ever since Russell Wilson decided to finish up his college football career with the Badgers two seasons ago, many Wisconsin fans have been hoping to see another quarterback that shares similar traits….and McEvoy may just be that guy.
Regardless of what happens with McEvoy in fall camp, there is no question that Stave and Phillips are both capable of managing the Wisconsin offense next season. Outside of two tough road games (Arizona State and Ohio State), the Badgers have a fairly light schedule.
Besides the light road schedule, Gary Andersen and company also avoid Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska on the schedule, while Northwestern, Penn State and BYU all have to travel to Madison. Throw in games against Illinois, Indiana, Purdue and Iowa (yes, I understand this game is at Kinnick Stadium and it is a rivalry), the Badgers should be in contention for another trip to the Big Ten Championship game and/or contend for a fourth straight BCS bowl berth should they manage to at least split the games against the Sun Devils and the Buckeyes.