Less Equals More: Evans sheds pounds, gains productivity

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 27, 2007 - In his spare time, Rodney Evans raises pit bull puppies, an extension of his fondness for animals. On the football field, he plays with the tenacity of a pit bull.

Evans, a senior defensive tackle for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats, is a combination of strength and speed that has produced 32 tackles and three sacks, both of which are second on the team. He has also scored twice on two-point conversions.

It's unusual for a defensive tackle to rate that high statistically.

"That's just his athleticism," said SSHS head coach Greg Owens. "He's so versatile. He still works out on the offensive line, so he could do that, and he's a fullback in our Bulls package. Every time we flip him the ball on our gate package, he scores on that.

"He has tremendous athletic ability with his strength and quickness."

Losing 30 pounds since last year has the 6-0, 220-pound Evans playing with more explosion and aggressiveness than last season when he was a Second Team All-District selection, said defensive line coach Rodney Flowers.

"Last year, we used him more as an anchor-type player. This year, we're moving him a lot more, trying to let him get his hands on the quarterback and ball carrier more," Flowers said. "I want him to play all the way across the line. He's been more than willing to learn different positions."

And he's done it with a tremendous attitude, Owens said.

"He's a great kid, easy-going, always has a smile on his face," the coach explained. "He kind of goes with the flow, but when it's time to turn his motor on, he can do that.

"He's going out, having a good time and enjoying practice. He's having a great senior year and is very well liked by his teammates."

Evans, who was a regular at The Edge strength and conditioning program in the summer, said losing weight and gaining strength has given him more latitude. At the end of the summer, he lifted a team-high 305 pounds in the clean, which SSHS coaches use as a measure of a player's explosiveness.

"I lost 30 pounds since last year. I'm not as big, but I'm more explosive and quicker off the ball," Evans said. "I've gotten a lot faster, so maybe it's been a change for the better."

There's less of Evans, but more production. He's only 12 tackles behind his total for last season, and he has already surpassed his two sacks from '06.

"He's another great kid that's really bought into what we're selling," Owens said. "He was here all summer and worked his tail off.

"Now he's got that acceleration where he can go hunt the football down. He plays with a lot of passion and emotion. When he gets excited and gets going, there's not a whole lot of people who can block the guy."

Evans will have a chance to play college football, and has been contacted by Montana State. He would like to be a veterinarian because he loves animals from the time he lived with his father on a farm.

Flowers said he would be a good collegiate fit because he takes care of his business on and off the field.

"He's an awesome kid to be around, an awesome kid to coach," Flowers said. "I treat him like one of my own and would do anything for him. He's not going to disappoint you, he's not going to act crazy outside of school. He's one of those you call one of your players and be proud about it."

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