Sims: Exploring the Jekyll and Hyde dynamic in Tyler Van Dyke: what’s in store this season?

Third-year sophomore Tyler Van Dyke walks across the field during Miami's 45-21 loss against Duke University on Saturday, Oct. 22 at Hard Rock Stadium. Photo credit: Alexandra Carnochan

Change is a natural part of life. The ups and downs of it. People come and go, and you’ll be faced with difficult tasks and decisions. It’s natural. This story couldn’t be more true than for University of Miami starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

Being a highly touted quarterback out of high school, a four-star prospect ranked third in his class for position and first in the state by ESPN, Van Dyke committed to Miami. The 6-foot-4 pocket passer redshirted his first year as he sat behind starter D’Eriq King for the entirety of his freshman season.

Miami’s plan for Van Dyke was to have him back up King 2021, but injuries struck, and the Glastonbury, Connecticut native was thrust into the starting lineup. Van Dyke excelled and was able to see the highs of playing at an elite level.

After the season came the NFL Draft hype and a new coaching staff. In 2022, Van Dyke rode the roller coaster back down, facing injuries throughout the season and his share of struggles. This upcoming season, Van Dyke has a new offensive coordinator in Shannon Dawson and many newcomers scattered across the Hurricanes’ offense to support him.

Van Dyke was not even supposed to start in 2021, but King’s injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. Van Dyke’s collegiate debut was against Central Connecticut State, as he led the ‘Canes to a 69-0 blowout win.

Van Dyke struggled in the next couple of weeks against tougher matchups, but after two close losses, he improved. Van Dyke tossed for a minimum of 315 yards and three touchdowns in the remaining six games, as the Hurricanes went 5-1 to finish off the season.

Head coach Manny Diaz was dismissed after the year, and the Mario Cristobal era had begun. Van Dyke elected to stay at UM under his new head coach.

The excellent play of Van Dyke had gotten him noticed nationally. His name was floated around as a potential Heisman Trophy selection and future first-round pick. A successful 2022 season was expected for Van Dyke, but this is not what ended up happening.

Van Dyke had only two games with over 315 passing yards and was hurt during various parts of the season. Van Dyke went 3-6 as a starter last season, and his touchdown to interception ratio (TD/INT) dropped significantly from a 4.2 in 2021 to a 2.0 in 2022.

‘Canes fans have seen the good and the bad from Van Dyke. At the end of 2021, they saw an emerging star that was poised to make a run for the Heisman Trophy. And in 2022, they saw an inconsistent, injured quarterback struggling to make plays as he adjusted to a system that did not suit the players around him.

In 2021, the Hurricanes had a 1,000-yard receiver in Charleston Rambo and a pair of complementary receivers in Mike Harley Jr. and Key’Shawn Smith. Tight end Will Mallory was as solid as ever. The supporting cast in 2021 was much healthier and more effective than the group in 2022.

No UM receiver had over 400 yards in 2022 and injuries plagued the room. Expected standouts Elijah Arroyo and Xavier Restrepo played only a handful of games collectively. Van Dyke had really only shown chemistry with Restrepo in 2022, and when the wide receiver was out of the lineup, Van Dyke and the ‘Canes struggled to pick up big third downs as their key possession receiver was sidelined.

Restrepo is fully healthy this season and joins junior Colbie Young as a dynamic duo in Miami’s receiving room. Alabama transfer wideout Tyler Harrell returns to his hometown to provide some much-needed speed. Henry Parish Jr. joins newcomer Ajay Allen to bring strength to the running back room.

Miami also added some reinforcements up front. Impactful transfers in Matt Lee from UCF and Javion Cohen from Alabama should help limit the interior pressure Van Dyke faces. Five-star freshman Francis Mauigoa will also likely assume a starting tackle spot. Van Dyke should be much better protected in 2023.

The players are in place to help Van Dyke succeed this season. The ‘Canes are bigger and more physical at the line of scrimmage and better and faster at the skill positions, too. Van Dyke is in an offense designed by Dawson that will likely pass the ball more than in 2022.

With the additions that the ‘Canes made on and off the field and the added experience of their returning players, Van Dyke is in the best position of his collegiate career to succeed. The pieces are in place for him to recapture that magic he found at the end of 2021. Will he be able to return to form and make his junior season something special?

That question will be answered, starting with UM’s season debut on Friday at 7 p.m. against Miami of Ohio.

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