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Tyler Van Dyke savors fresh start as he competes for Wisconsin QB job after transferring from Miami

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is hoping his transfer to Wisconsin can help the former Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year recapture the form he showed earlier in his career.

“I’m excited about that, just getting back to playing like myself and launching the ball downfield,” Van Dyke said Friday.

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There’s no guarantee Van Dyke will open the season as the starter at his new school.

During spring practice, Van Dyke has been splitting first-team reps with Braedyn Locke, who started three games for Wisconsin in place of an injured Tanner Mordecai last season. Wisconsin’s only other quarterback with any college experience is Nick Evers, who appeared in one game with Oklahoma in 2022.

Wisconsin offensive coordinator Phil Longo described it as a wide-open competition.

“I think by the time spring ball is over or by the time we’re midway through August camp, anybody that knows anything that’s here is going to know who that guy is because he’s declared it himself with his execution,” Longo said.

Coach Luke Fickell believes the competition should accelerate Van Dyke’s growth in a new system.

“Working with a guy that’s been in the offense, that knows it like the back of his hand in Braedyn, I think that … puts a little bit more pressure on him (Van Dyke), but I think he’s done a great job,” Fickell said this week. “I think we’re going to see him kind of continue to come out of his shell, and not just as a football player, but as a leader as well.”

This marked the second straight offseason in which Fickell went to the transfer portal to find a quarterback with starting experience.

Mordecai was the Badgers’ clear-cut starter last year after throwing for a school-record 72 touchdowns at SMU from 2021-22. Mordecai ended up completing 65% of his passes for 2,065 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions in 10 games while helping Wisconsin go 7-6 in Fickell’s debut season.

Van Dyke’s track record at Miami is more of a mixed bag.

The 6-foot-4 quarterback started Miami’s final nine games in 2021 and was named the ACC Rookie of the Year. Van Dyke completed 62.3% of his passes for 2,931 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

After missing parts of six games due to a shoulder injury in 2022, Van Dyke dealt with hand and leg injuries while becoming more turnover-prone last year. His 12 interceptions in 2023 surpassed his 2021-22 combined total of 11.

After Van Dyke threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in a 20-6 loss to North Carolina State last fall, Miami opted to start Emory Williams instead against Florida State. Although he regained his starting spot once Williams suffered a season-ending arm injury in the loss to the Seminoles, Van Dyke entered the transfer portal at the end of the regular season.

“I think it was time,” Van Dyke said. “I had a lot of ups and downs at Miami. I think coming here’s a really good fresh start, especially with someone like coach Longo.”

Van Dyke’s accustomed to making new starts.

He played for different offensive coordinators each of the last three seasons at Miami. His 2021 breakthrough season came with Rhett Lashlee, who left after that year to become SMU’s head coach. Josh Gattis replaced Lashlee as Miami’s offensive coordinator but was fired after one season, with Shannon Dawson taking over.

“Learning a new offense, it’s old hat for him because he’s so used to doing it,” Longo said. “He’s done a really, really good job in a very short amount of time, of understanding and learning the terminology and understanding how we run everything.”

Van Dyke noted he had his most success while playing for Lashlee, who operated more of an Air Raid type of offense. He believes that makes him a good fit for Longo’s own Air Raid attack.

He also has some familiarity with this place.

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Van Dyke said he visited Wisconsin a couple of times when former Badgers coach Paul Chryst recruited him out of high school. He said growing up in Connecticut has helped him adjust to the changes associated with moving from Miami to Wisconsin.

“Totally different vibe here,” Van Dyke said. “More of a college feel than Miami was. Coming from Connecticut, it’s kind of the same type of vibe, weather-wise and living style.”

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