December 12, 2006

Opposing coach: Evans an impressive prospect

Michigan's most recent verbal commitment, 6-3, 215-pound linebacker Marell Evans, was named the Richmond Times-Dispatch Defensive Player of the Year this past fall. Highland Springs head coach Scott Burton didn't cast a vote, but he can think of no player in the area who deserved the honor more than Evans …

"We played Evans' team twice this year, lost to them both times, including in the Regional Championship, and I was really impressed with the kid," Burton said. "He played middle linebacker the whole year, I believe, and he really took to the position. He has superior athletic ability. He's rangy and he can run. He has a very good sense for the ball … takes outstanding angles and doesn't miss tackles when he gets to the ball carrier."

Evans had 69 tackles, including six tackles for loss this season. He had three sacks, four fumble recoveries and intercepted two passes, returning one for a score. His team went 11-2 and was only knocked out of the playoffs two weeks ago.

"The kid is a class act," Burton said. "After our game, he came over to me and talked about what great respect he had for me as a coach, for our program and for our kids. He did so completely unsolicited by his coach. More than anything, I think the kid has great character."

Evans will have to get bigger to play linebacker at Michigan. He is listed as a mere two-star prospect by, but that was before making the move to linebacker in the fall - he was a safety a year ago. He's excelled as the anchor of Varina High School's defense and he can continue to excel in the future at U-M, Burton believes.

"He has to get bigger, there is no question about that," Burton said. "But he has those qualities everybody seems to be after these days and that's great speed and great athletic ability. He's still a little raw, but he seems very coachable and he has shown the kind of instincts you can't teach at that position. He will become bigger and much more technical, but when you put him on the field, I think you'll see a kid that knows how to get to the ball without having to think about it."

Evans flew under the radar nationally, and even in his own community, but has tremendous upside.

"He wasn't that blue-chip kid that everyone around here said, 'He's getting attention from here and there' like a lot of bigger-name kids get, but he comes from a great program … he's going to enter college knowing how to work hard, and he's going to have the opportunity to be special down the road," Burton said. "I think the true test of a kid, both with his play and attitudinally, is when you, as a coach, say 'I would have liked to have coached this kid.' I would say that about Marell Evans."

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