McEvoy’s mixed spring ends with solid showing

Redshirt freshman: The goal is to be No. 1

dmclemore@thestate.comApril 17, 2012 

University of South Carolina quarterback Tanner McEvoy runs through drills during practice.

C. ALUKA BERRY — caberry@thestate.com

Tanner McEvoy entered the spring with a chance to compete for the backup quarterback spot. He’ll get another shot this summer.

The redshirt freshman had an up-and-down spring in which he dropped below sophomore Dylan Thompson and senior Seth Strickland on the depth chart. Thompson is the apparent No. 2 quarterback after a 15-for-20 effort in Saturday’s spring game.

McEvoy, however, finished on a good note, going 8-of-12 for 132 yards and two touchdowns in the Garnet & Black game.

“That’s the best (McEvoy) has played all spring,” Spurrier said. “Maybe he is going to get in the fight for No. 2. We will see how it plays out in summer and fall.”

Saturday’s performance followed a Thursday practice in which McEvoy threw three interceptions. McEvoy’s other practices were hit or miss.

It’s part of the learning process, quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus said.

“He’ll be fine. He’s made some mistakes and that’s good,” Mangus said. “That’s what the first spring is all about. Connor Shaw made a bunch of mistakes a couple springs ago and now he’s the starting quarterback.”

McEvoy (6-foot-6, 209) said he spent the spring learning the offense, getting used to the receivers and trying to better understand the speed at which everyone plays.

“We installed a lot this spring and I picked it up pretty quickly,” he said. “I’m still learning. I think I know the offense pretty well. Learning the offense is real key. You’ve got to know your stuff.”

McEvoy is among the three standouts from New Jersey in the Class 2011 that included safety Sheldon Royster and receiver Damiere Byrd.

He was a three-star prospect who played receiver and safety before switching to quarterback his senior year. He threw for 2,264 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 1,196 yards and 14 scores in the 2010 season at Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, N.J.

Though he says he had a lot of fun playing receiver high school, he has no interest in playing anything but quarterback in college.

“I made the switch my senior year of high school and I made that decision with my coach, my family,” he said. “That’s really what I wanted to do. I knew [USC coaches] wanted me to play quarterback. I’m enjoying playing quarterback.”

McEvoy is going home after final exams in May and will work out with his high school team. He’ll be back in Columbia in time for the first summer semester and will spend his preseason running, lifting weights and doing school work.

Battling for the No. 2 spot is on his to-do list, but all the quarterbacks have a higher ambition.

“The goal is to be No. 1,” he said. “Each day you’ve to come out and compete. All of us are fighting for every spot.”

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