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Miami football: What Tyler Van Dyke gained from lost, losing season

The 2021 ACC rookie of the year had never faced injuries or adversity the way he did last year at The U.
 
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke went through injuries and adversity last year. He said those made him stronger for this fall.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke went through injuries and adversity last year. He said those made him stronger for this fall. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP ]
Published Aug. 28, 2023|Updated Aug. 28, 2023

Tyler Van Dyke did not have to be at Miami.

He could have entered the NFL draft and hoped his strong 2021 season and 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame enticed scouts enough to make them overlook last fall. He could have left the Hurricanes through the transfer portal; there were enough rumblings connecting him to Alabama that Miami posted a social media message in April with his image and the message “100% CANE!”

So why, after a 2022 season that was the worst of his life, is he still in Coral Gables, preparing for Friday’s opener against Miami (Ohio)?

“This is where I want to be,” Van Dyke said at last month’s ACC football kickoff.

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke addresses reporters at the ACC football kickoff in Charlotte, N.C.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke addresses reporters at the ACC football kickoff in Charlotte, N.C. [ NELL REDMOND | AP ]

It would have been easy to understand if Van Dyke wanted to be somewhere else. Only 11 major-conference teams allowed more sacks per game than Miami (three). The ground game averaged only 3.74 yards per carry (tied for 95th in the country). Neither stat sounds good to a quarterback.

The Hurricanes went 5-7 — their worst record in 15 years — with a rock-bottom loss to Middle Tennessee.

“I’m a big competitor,” Van Dyke said. “Not winning, not being able to help my team sometimes out there, it hurt sometimes.”

Van Dyke said he talked with the Hurricanes’ sports psychologist, Eric Goldstein, a lot over the past year to work through all the adversity — situations he was not accustomed to.

“Not worrying about the outside noise and where people are ranked, whatever,” Van Dyke said. “None of that matters. It’s all about what you did last.”

What the ‘Canes did last was not very good. But Van Dyke remained because he believes this year can be significantly better.

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke should benefit from an improved supporting cast.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback Tyler Van Dyke should benefit from an improved supporting cast. [ AL DIAZ/ADIAZ@MIAMIHERALD.COM | Miami Herald (2022) ]

He trusted second-year coach Mario Cristobal as he rebuilt the roster with a top-10 recruiting class. Cristobal beefed up a shaky offensive line with Matt Lee, preseason all-ACC guard Javion Cohen (an Alabama transfer) and five-star recruits Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola. Van Dyke said he kept in touch with Cristobal during those recruiting processes.

Miami also tried to help Van Dyke out by adding more skill talent: speedy receiver Tyler Harrell, Nebraska running back Ajay Allen and one of the country’s top running back recruits (Mark Fletcher).

Perhaps most importantly, the Hurricanes (eventually) changed offensive coordinators. They fired Josh Gattis — a year removed from winning the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant — two months after their final game. Miami replaced him with Shannon Dawson, who helped Clayton Tune set an AAC record with 40 touchdown passes at Houston last fall.

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“I think what Shannon Dawson has done in his history really fits Tyler, his skill set, the pieces around him,” Cristobal said at last month’s ACC football kickoff. “It gives him the opportunity to enhance a supporting cast.”

And that leads back to Van Dyke — arguably the most interesting player in the state. He was the ACC’s rookie of the year in 2021 and ended the season with six consecutive games with at least 300 passing yards and three touchdown passes. The last Power Five player to accomplish that? LSU’s Joe Burrow.

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was the ACC's top rookie in 2021.
Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was the ACC's top rookie in 2021. [ WILFREDO LEE | AP (2021) ]

But Van Dyke missed parts of six games last season with injuries. He couldn’t practice during the leadup to the Florida State game and said trainers had to shoot him up with a numbing agent so he could try to play with a banged-up shoulder. He estimated he was at less than 50% in the 45-3 loss.

Though it’d be easy to view 2022 as a lost season, Van Dyke doesn’t seem to. In the two games before he got hurt at Duke, he passed for 838 yards, five touchdowns and one interception — enough for Van Dyke to think he was trending in the right direction. He had never faced injuries and issues like the ones he did last year; he believes they have made him stronger for this time around.

“It’s not always going to be a smooth-sailing ride…” Van Dyke said. “That’s a lesson I learned from it.”

One that should make him and his team, Miami, better for it.

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