Freshman Steps Up In First College Start

The Iron Bowl was the stage as freshman Jonathan Evans was called on to be a key member of the Auburn football team's defense.

Auburn, Ala.--Jonathan Evans doesn't deny he was nervous, but it didn't take the freshman long to stick his nose into the fray on Friday at Jordan-Hare Stadium and give his team a chance to upset unbeaten Alabama.

A true freshman who was injured earlier this season, he was the last man standing among the scholarship linebacker group at game time as the Tigers and Tide squared off at Jordan-Hare Stadium. With starter Eltoro Freeman unable to bounce back from his injury in the Georgia game, Evans started and was the team's second leading tackler with eight solo stops.

"It was a really big opportunity to go out there and make my first start in the biggest game of the season," said Evans, who at this time last year was playing at Blount High in Prichard. "There was a lot of pressure, but I just went out there and just did my best."

Asked if he was nervous, the freshman said, "Yes sir, I was pretty nervous," he said, but he added, "I?got over it by the first two plays. "It was just like high school--just go out there and play."

Commenting on how he did, Evans said, "I think I did okay. I have to still work on a couple of things. I?have to get with Coach Roof and work on some knick-knacks. I?know I kind of messed up a little bit. I am going to get in the film room and work on it."

Ted Roof, who doubles as defensive coordinator and coach of the linebackers, said that Evans didn't always do the right thing, but the coach liked his effort.

"For a guy who was third team two weeks ago to play the entire Iron Bowl, I was proud of him," Roof said. "He made some mistakes, but everybody makes mistakes. I was proud of his effort. He didn't blink, he wasn't intimidated. He wasn't anything. He just went out there and played which is what football players do. That's football. It's a big man's league and it's the next man up and he was the next man up."

The Tigers' three starters, Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens and Evans, were the only linebackers to see action for the Tigers. Stevens said he was pleased with how Evans stepped up when needed. "I thought he played really well for his first start," the junior said.

The brother of former Auburn linebacker Chris Evans, the freshman said he got some encouragement from his sibling. "He just told me it is just like a normal game," he said. "Just go out there and play your best like I know you can. That is all I?needed from him. That helped lift me up right there."


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