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Where Will “Athlete” Evans Play?

Photo by Allyson Lamb

Photo by Allyson Lamb

The headline in the Charlotte Observer said it best: “Freshman Darrynton Evans flashes potential in App State’s bowl win”.

Below was an article focused on the true freshman from Oak Hill, Fla., who dazzled App Nation and a national television audience with A 94-yard kickoff return for a TD, a sprint many considered the play of the game in the Mountaineers’ Camellia Bowl victory.

Evans also “flashed” his clear potential at other times during his debut season in the Black and Yellow Nike Gold (™), including 199 all-purpose yards in Apps’ dramatic win at Akron. The man with the No. 19 on his back had a few other impressive kick returns, and seemed one block away from going to the house multiple times.

Evans is a weapon, or to put it more directly: It seems he could be more of a weapon for App State in 2017.

Touches this season would have been tough for anyone listed on the depth chart behind the Sun Belt Conference’s most-talented running backs: the NFL-bound Marcus Cox and #FunBelt Offensive Player of the Year Jalin Moore, the heir apparent-turned-workhorse.

So where does Evans, whom App special teams coordinator Stu Holt called “a special player,” fit into Head Football Coach Scott Satterfield’s plans for the 2017 campaign?

“The future is bright for Darrynton Evans,” Coach Visor said after Appalachian’s 31-28 bowl win over Toledo. “We’re going to find ways to get him the football.”

Hmm…

…Evans, at first glance, appears poised to take over the RB understudy role, with Moore likely to get the lion’s share almost every carry during his junior season.

Then again, maybe it’s not that simple. (Is it ever that simple with Satterfield?)

Spend some time with the App football program’s own documents (hot docs, as we say in the newz biz), and you’ll find a word Satterfield puts beside Evans’ name that shows how the coach views the rising sophomore: “Athlete”. That’s the position on his official bio, and on the team’s full 2016 roster. In fact, he was the lone player this season to get the scarlet coveted “ATH” designation, according to an intensive CTRL + F search conducted by the AppFan staff.

Consider also that Satterfield and Co. have other young RBs on the roster, including rising junior Josh Boyd and rising sophomore Marcus Williams, Jr., both three-star recruits.

With so many ball-toters around to spell Moore, and with No. 25 putting in most of the work, will Evans ever be allowed to become Moore’s likely replacement? Or will it be too tempting for Satt and his staff to use him next season all over the field? As a weapon, as an, well, “Athlete”?

Your blogger doesn’t intend to use the designation as a pejorative. Not at all. It’s clearly a compliment to Evans that his head coach views him as a difference-maker who can do more than focus on one position.

But there is a risk of No. 19 never living up to the very potential he flashed in Montgomery as he bounces from running back to wide receiver to slot back/receiver to kick returner to Wild Yosef quarterback (we’re dreaming, but, damn is that one exciting image!) to whatever else Coach Visor, a true offensive mad scientist, might conjure up.

If this role sounds familiar, it should, App Fan. Remember the Mountaineers’ last “Athlete” who never was kept at one position due to all that “talent” — but never seemed to meet all that “upside” until he left Boone and was considered a RB in the pros?

Travaris Cadet transferred into the Mountaineer program as a QB, then became a RB, before also seeing time as a WR, all while returning kickoffs and punts. You never knew where No. 7 was going to line up, nor how App’s coaches were going to get him, and all that speed, the ball football.

Usually, that was a very good thing. Defenses had to account for Cadet, and attempt to adjust accordingly. Often, they didn’t. But there was sometimes a downside to this upside.
Cadet wasn’t always on the field, as Devon Moore handled most of the yeoman carries. He never was a natural — or even forced — WR. But he clearly felt he should be more involved. So No. 7 often was Public App Enemy No. 1.

Too often, he tried to, as the unwatchable football analysts on ESPN like to say very loudly, “make a play.” Too often, it resulted in a turnover or lost yardage.

Cadet was listed at 6’1’’ and 215 pounds before his senior season, two inches and 25 pounds heavier than Evans. But the eyeball test shows similarities, and the rising super soph will likely gain some lbs. while clanging and banging in App weight room. Evans plays taller than 5’11’’, and Cadet played lighter than his solid 215-pound frame seemed to dictate.

As Evans raced down the Cramton Bowl sideline, it certainly reminded this Mountaineer analyst maniac of the former App “Athlete” who once wore No. 7.  

In short, Cadet could have been more of a difference-maker. But the Mountaineer coaches never really found the proper role for him. They’ll need to use this off-season to clearly define Evans’ role, and make him more of a consistent presence than App’s last “Athlete” ever was. — App-stradamus (On Twitter: @APPstradamus)

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