Tyler Vander Waal has been ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals, Scout.com and 247 Sports. 247 Sports also ranked Vander Waal as the 174th best overall recruit in the state of California in the 2017 recruiting class. He was selected to the Sacramento Bee First Team All-Metro team in 2016. His senior season, Vander Waal completed 60.7 percent of his passes (202 for 333 passes) for 2,926 yards. He threw 25 touchdown passes and had only nine of his passes intercepted. Vander Waal also rushed for 378 yards on 118 rushing attempts, scored six rushing touchdowns and accounted for 3,304 yards of total offense. He averaged 209.0 yards passing per game and 236.0 yards of total offense per game. Vander Waal was named the Sacramento Bee Player of the Week for his performance in a 48-18 victory over Casa Roble. He threw three touchdown passes and scored a fourth TD rushing in the win. Vander Waal led Christian Brothers High to an 11-3 overall record and a perfect 5-0 record in the Capital Athletic League to win the conference championship. Christian Brothers advanced to the 2016 Championship Game of the Sac-Joaquin Sectional Playoffs for Division III. Christian Brothers entered the sectional playoffs seeded No. 3. The Falcons defeated No. 14 seed Cordova, 30-20, in the first round; beat 11th seed Burbank, 21-14, in the quarterfinals; and captured a 29-0 victory over No. 2 seed American Canyon in the semifinals. The Falcons lost the sectional championship game to No. 1 seed Oakdale. Vander Waal played for head coach Dan Carmazzi.
Vander Waal was also recruited by Ball State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada, San Jose State, Utah and Washington State.