After a strong first-year campaign in 2021, Tyler Van Dyke enters the 2022 season on several preseason watch lists. And, as much of the country learned in the second half of the 2021 season, it’s well deserved.
This past March, @Tyler_Van_Dyke was honored as Walter Camp Connecticut Player of the Year.— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) July 30, 2022
Yesterday, he was named one to watch for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award.
Big things coming for number 9️⃣ this fall. pic.twitter.com/1I9pM2smbb
.@Tyler_Van_Dyke has been named to the Maxwell Award Watchlist.— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) July 18, 2022
: https://t.co/hd7HskQ34w pic.twitter.com/KwXghSnfNU
Van Dyke’s opportunity arose when injuries to D’Eriq King against Michigan State and Jake Garcia against Central Connecticut State opened the door wide open for Van Dyke to take over the starting role. After struggling through the first half against Virginia in his first start, he came alive in the second half, doing his job by leading the Canes in position to win the game with a short field goal, which unfortunately doinked off the upright. The following week at UNC was also a struggle, with Van Dyke completing only 20 of 45 attempts for 264 yards with 3 picks. However, he again proved solid in the second half, leading the Canes back to having a chance to win. If not for a fluke deflection/interception by a lineman in the red zone, it might have happened.
But that second half in Chapel Hill is where the season swung around for Van Dyke. In the remaining 6 games, he threw for 300+ yards in each game with 20 touchdowns to 3 interceptions.
Bottom line, when it came to making plays from the QB position, no one in the country was better in the second half of 2021:
Tyler Van Dyke in the second half of the 2021 season:— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 18, 2022
▪️Top 10 in yards
▪️Top 10 in touchdowns
▪️Top 10 in big time throws
Only QB in the FBS pic.twitter.com/aBEluPiyCf
And for those who might have forgotten over the long offseason, he can make plays with his legs when he needs to:
Tyler Van Dyke makes a huge play on 3rd & 10. He scrambles out & goes all the way for the TD. Miami is hanging around. They won’t go away. Great drive by Van Dyke.— Brendan Moore (@bmoorecfb) October 1, 2021
Although some outside the program may be in wait-and-see mode as to whether Van Dyke is the elite-level player he flashed in the second half of 2021, I don’t have that same hesitation. His ball placement is excellent, his reads improved as the season went along, and his offensive line will be even better this year. He was noticeably more comfortable after getting his feet wet the first couple of games. He also flashed that clutch gene, helping Miami find a way to win or have a chance to win every game in crunch time. He just has that “it” factor that’s hard to find and can’t be taught.
Honestly, I think the bigger question is not directly about Van Dyke himself. Rather, it’s this: who’s going to be his go-to target this fall? Charleston Rambo transferred from Oklahoma and was as reliable a receiving threat that Miami has had in decades, posting a stat line of 79 rec, 1172 yards, 7 TDs while shattering school records for catches and single-season receiving yards. Mike Harley Jr. also came on his last 2 years in Coral Gables and will be missed.
Who will Van Dyke establish that connection with in fall camp and during a couple of September tune ups before heading to College Station? And I’m not worried as much about tight end. Will Mallory is an established receiving threat, and Elijah Arroyo looks poised to take a big step forward this year. My question is who will step up on the outside. Xavier Restrepo was the only player to flash in the spring game and should be a force underneath for Van Dyke to rely on. But who else? What about down the field? Will it be newcomer Frank Ladson, Jr.? What about the speedy Brashard Smith? I think it could be Key’Shawn Smith, who was often on the same page with Van Dyke and had a nose for the end zone last year. He caught 33 passes for 405 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2021. If that duo can build on what they had last year, look out.
2022 prediction: Hard to say without having seen the new offensive system in full swing, but here we go... 285/425 (67%), 3900 yards, 35 touchdowns, 8 interceptions