Young Defender Off To Solid Start in Spring Drills

Chris Evans was busy in his first scrimmage as an Auburn football player.

Auburn, Ala.--Chris Evans got to put on an orange Auburn practice jersey for his first college scrimmage after a fall as a "grayshirt" and it became quickly obvious that the freshman's season away from football hasn't hurt his linebacker skills.

His play in a reserve role was one of the highlights for the Auburn defense on Saturday. Wearing number 59, Evans looked like he fit right in with the other members of the orange-clad defense, which is shaping up to be a quick and athletic group.

Playing outside linebacker, Evans made three solo tackles, added five assists, had one tackle for a loss, deflected a pass and recovered a fumble. His position coach, Joe Whitt, says it was a good start for Evans, who signed with the Tigers in February 2004, but didn't enroll as a full-time student at AU until January.

Chris Evans tackles running back Carl Stewart in Saturday's scrimmage.

By sitting out last fall, his eligibility clock did not start. Evans has five years, starting with the 2005 season, to play for four seasons of college football.

"I think I did all right," the former Blount High standout says. "I still have a lot of things to work on. If you have the instincts for playing football, it just snaps back to you, but there are still things I need to work on."

Evans seems upbeat about the possibilities of earning playing time this season after taking classes as a part-time student last fall and not being able to play in games or even practice. He and center Jason Bosley both spent the fall as grayshirts.

"I am real excited my opportunity to play," Evans says. "Right now, I am second string on the depth chart. The more I catch on to the plays the more playing time I will get."

Evans, who checks in at 6-0, 221 pounds, is a more impressive physical specimen than the player the Tigers signed more than a year ago.

"I have gotten bigger and stronger since high school," he notes. "Auburn has a good strength training and conditioning program. They put me on it in the fall and I did a lot of running and working out."

Evans admits that he is still adjusting to the college game and its bigger, faster and stronger players along with more complicated defensive systems. "I am still a bit nervous, but I am coming along," he says. "I am working on reading my assignments, reading my keys, reading from the linemen to the backfield."

Whitt, the senior member of Auburn's coaching staff, says the linebacker has plenty of potential. "I think he is going to be a good one," states Whitt, who notes that Evans has shown in practice the linebacker skills that made him a four-year starter at Blount High.

The freshman and the rest of his new teammates have five of their 15 spring practices completed after a busy first week of workouts. The Tigers will return to the practice again on Tuesday and will have scrimmage two on Saturday. The A-Day spring game is March 19th at 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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