For playing a high-profiled position, East Central University quarterback Tyler Vanderzee is all about humbleness.
After just learning that he was named Lone Star Conference North Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for his performance in the Tigers’ 48-21 home victory over Northeastern State on Saturday, Vanderzee was overly surprised.
“I am surprised. I thought I had a decent game, but not enough to get conference player of the week,” said Vanderzee. “Overall, I missed a few throws and I felt like I could’ve done better with my accuracy.”
His play was enough to secure the victory for the Tigers, who now have a chance at capturing at least a share of the LSC North championship this week with a visit to Texas A&M-Commerce.
Vanderzee, a native of Chino, Calif., was 14-of-26 passing for 250 yards and two touchdowns against the RiverHawks and also caught a 38-yard scoring pass from Jason Stephenson, off a reverse which helped propel ECU to its third straight victory, the best three-game run for the program since the 2004 season.
“He’s a very deserving player. He has really understood the offense more and more as the weeks have gone along,” said ECU head coach Tim McCarty. “He has very high character, a very strong arm and is smart. He also showed Saturday that he has a little speed.”
Vanderzee, sprinting near the left sideline after delivering a handoff on the reverse play, took the throw from Stephenson. The pass caught the NSU defense by surprise and Vanderzee raced to the end zone, accelerating to beat a RiverHawk defender, which had an angle on him.
“We put in the play last week and ran it in practice one day against the scout team,” Vanderzee said. “We ran a toss (sweep) a couple of times. But Jason did a good job of selling the run. He’s left-handed so they weren’t ready for that.”
Vanderzee also showed his big-play capabilities with his arm as he connected with Zack Patteson on a 51-yard touchdown pass in the opening quarter and later hooked up with Cleotha Euwins on a 76-yard scoring play in the fourth period.
Vanderzee, a 6-foot, 6-inch junior and transfer from Mt. San Antonio College (Calif.) via Ontario Christian High School (Calif.), is nearing the 2,000-yard mark in passing this season. He has thrown for 1,819 yards and 11 touchdowns, while completing 49.7 percent of his passes (143-of-288).
“We’ve had about 6-8 drops a week. If it wasn’t for that, his percentage would be a lot a higher,” McCarty said.
Vanderzee won’t play the blame game. He sees it as an avenue in improving his play.
“I came from a junior college program in which every mistake was on the quarterback. I see it as having to throw the ball in a better spot,” said Vanderzee. “When you see receivers making mistakes, I see things that I could’ve done to make it a better play.”
“He’s a gracious kid,” commented McCarty.
Vanderzee believes the victory over NSU was an instance of a lot of things finally coming together and the slight improvement in the Tigers’ running game is starting to make a difference.
“Our offensive line has been doing a great job all year and on Saturday, with the run, they did a good job of blocking with eight (defensive) men in the box,” Vanderzee said. “(The improved running game) has taken the pressure off our passing game.”
Individually, Vanderzee feels like he is slowly, but surely getting more comfortable with orchestrating the offense.
“It’s running plays out of certain formations and knowing what I’m looking for. Sometimes I’ll run plays into wrong looks,” said Vanderzee. “Now I’m trying to put us into the best play possible.”