Bobby Bass said when he first got to Newton County that Miguel Evans “drove him nuts.”
Bass said Evans was “silly and didn’t take anything seriously.” On to top of that, Bass said it seemed like Evans was in the high school office every day.
But somewhere along the way, Bass said Evans started to “figure it out” and take things a little more seriously. And then somewhere in the middle of his sophomore season, Bass realized that Evans had turned into a serious football player, making him the latest addition to The Newton County Appeal’s Elite 11 football players for the 2019 season.
“Miguel is one of those kids, from a playing standpoint is one of our hardest practice players,” Bass said. “And he is by far our best defensive player. When he isn’t on the field, the play may not get made. But the probability of somebody making a big play goes down when he isn’t on the field. He’s a big play guy. He is a difference maker for us defensively.”
Bass said that Evans is one of the smartest players that he has coached, even though he doesn’t always show it.
“About halfway through the season last year, he finally figured it out as far as reading and reacting,” Bass said. “He tries to play dumb but he’s not dumb. He has football intelligence, and he is also very smart. As far as intellectual, he’s a very smart kid, but he doesn’t want anybody to know because it would ruin his street cred. He can pretty much repeat whatever I say verbatim. Anything I go over, he’s got it.”
Evans admits that it took him a while to buy into the weight room
“I didn’t used to like the weight room when I was in seventh and eighth grade,” Evans said. “I used to just go off of my athleticism. But when I got to high school, I started seeing guys doing more than me and they were doing it better. I finally bought in and fell in love with it.”
Bass said he has seen Evans buy into the weight room and part of that is a maturity factor. Evans said he maxed out at 220 on the bench, 245 on squat and 395 on deadlift.
“He has bought into the weight room,” Bass said. “He’s not as strong as the other kids in his groups. We have some strong kids coming up who have busted their butts. When I first got here, I wanted to kill him. He was silly and immature and didn’t take anything seriously. He was just a silly sophomore. He is on our leadership council now and that’s picked by our coaches. He is one of those that shied away from it. I told him that when he was in the game, people listened to him. I told them that they see him practice hard, and they practice hard. When he goes out at practice, everything slows down. When he’s in there, everybody goes full speed.”
While Evans mainly plays outside linebacker, he could play any of the other linebacker positions. Last year, Evans was second on the team with 103 tackles, including 17 for loss and five sacks.
“He can play the outside backer and come off the edge or he can play the walk-down end and take on blockers,” Bass said. “He can play the inside backer as well and likes playing in there because things happen so fast. He likes coming off the edge when it’s third down. We are going to move him around in different spots and make the offense know where he is. I don’t know if he can play linebacker in college, but he could play safety. He is long, has long arms and can get off blocks. He can do something wrong and still make the play and that’s a credit to his athletic ability. He may go inside a block but will still make the tackle.”
Bass said he thinks Evans, who is 6-foot-1 and 202 pounds, can play junior college. He has already had some interest from East Central.
“I know he can play JUCO,” Bass said. “He could go JUCO and learn to play strong safety, depending on what people run. Depending on his development, he might could go I-AA, but it would take somebody to fall in love with him. He might could go somewhere like Central Arkansas or Nichols State, just depends. He is going to get a lot better when you put him on a college campus and put him on a meal plan. He’s going to fill out.”
Evans said he likes the physicality of playing defense.
“I’m an aggressive player, I like to hit people,” Evans said. “I’ve played all the linebacker. Anything could happen where you have to go play inside linebacker or one of the other positions, so we learn all of them. I learn them all across the board. I think one of my roles is to bring energy to the team. I like staying amped. We feed off energy on defense. If the inside guy makes a big play, I want to make a bigger play than him.”
Bass said the thing he has been most impressed with Evans is how he has matured.
“He has come a long way, maturity wise,” Bass said. “Not only down here at the field house but up there in the building as well. That joker stayed in the office all last year. It seemed like he was in the office every day. Didn’t go to the office a day the second semester. Had straight A’s during football season. I’m more proud of how much he has matured.”
Evans also plays on the basketball team and runs track as well. In track, Evans ran the 200 and the 4x400-meter relay. Evans said he ran a 4.63 at Belhaven this summer.