Badgers' McEvoy takes reps at receiver

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By Jeff Potrykus
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 22, 2013

MADISON--One play, during a red-zone drill, doesn’t provide enough evidence from which to draw a definitive conclusion.

However, Tanner McEvoy’s first work at wide receiver Wednesday at Camp Randall Stadium was promising.

“The guy has got a tremendous skill set,” Wisconsin offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said after practice.

McEvoy, listed at 6 feet 6 inches and 223 pounds, got two plays in the red-zone segment at wide receiver.

On the play that stood out, McEvoy went high over cornerback Darius Hillary for a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joel Stave.

Hillary, 5-11 and 187, appeared to have tight coverage on the play but the ball was high and toward the left corner of the end zone.

McEvoy went up and snatched the ball out of the air like a player who has been working as a receiver all his life.

“You saw two plays today,” Ludwig said. “He is 1 for 2. I feel good.”

McEvoy was a promising receiver at Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey until he moved to quarterback his senior season. He passed for 2,264 yards and rushed for 1,196 yards as a senior. Then, after redshirting at South Carolina in 2011, McEvoy transferred to Arizona Western College. He passed for 1,943 yards and rushed for 414 yards there but appears to be No. 3 in the quarterback race, behind Stave and Curt Phillips.

“He is in the development phase at the quarterback position,” Ludwig said, adding that McEvoy didn’t take any snaps under center Wednesday because he has a sore wrist. “He has played quarterback three years of his life.”

Head coach Gary Andersen said Monday after the team’s scrimmage he planned to give McEvoy work at wide receiver because of his play-making ability. In addition, he suggested the staff could utilize McEvoy’s running ability in a specific package.

Although McEvoy hasn’t thrown the ball well consistently in camp, he has shown the ability to make plays with his feet when pressured. It is obvious he can be a threat with the ball in his hands, particularly in the open field.

“Anything is possible,” Ludwig said when asked whether McEvoy can help the team at wide receiver. “But it wouldn’t be the whole package obviously because he hasn’t done it.”

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, speaking Wednesday afternoon on The Big 1070 in Madison, gave the move a thumbs up.

“I like the fact they’re talking about using him at wide receiver,” Alvarez said. “He is too good an athlete—too big, too fast.

“And you’re going to burn this year of eligibility. You’ve got to get some mileage out of him.

“Get him out at wide receiver. We’re a little thin there. We can use some help.”

Ludwig likes Houston

Quarterback Bart Houston, a redshirt freshman who did not practice last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, said recently he hopes to be able to contribute this season.

“I just want to improve daily,” he said, “and eventually I’ll beat out the other guys.”

Ludwig didn’t rule out that Houston could be the No. 3 quarterback. That makes sense, particularly if the staff uses McEvoy’s skills in other areas.

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