Last season injuries forced Evans into play at Georgia for the first extensive action of his college career and in the Iron Bowl he got his first start against Alabama. This season he wasn't expected to play a huge role with Stevens and Freeman both on his side, but the suspension of Stevens changed Auburn's plans dramatically for the Arkansas State game.
"I realized it the day of the game," Evans said. "Coach (Roof) told us we would rotate and get the same amount of reps. He said just to go out there and play hard."
Along with Freeman, Evans alternated series with the first team last Saturday night and played solid with four tackles while Freeman was third on the team with six stops. Getting 10 total tackles out of the position was a step in the right direction for a defense looking to make more stops at the line of scrimmage.
For Evans every play and series is a chance to move forward in his development as a football player. Filling in admirably last year, the Mobile native said he feels like a different player this time around.
"I feel really good about myself," Evans said. "Finishing up last year I got a lot of experience as a freshman. I matured a lot and learned a lot. Seeing the game from a freshman to now a sophomore I feel really good."
Something that helps is his development is having a mentor to give him pointers about the game, his older brother and former Auburn linebacker Chris Evans. Talking to him frequently during the week, Jonathan Evans said he gets a lot of help from someone who has been there before and knows what to expect.
"I talk to him often," Evans said. "He calls me and tells me to make sure and go over the film and get with the coaches to make sure I've got everything down pat and just to go out there and play hard."
Evans and Freeman will have their work cut out for them Thursday night as the Tigers take on a talented and explosive Mississippi State offense on national television. With many people expecting a shootout between two of the top offenses in the league, Evans said the defense is just going to play hard and see what happens.
"We look at it as being a hard, physical game," Evans said. "It's our first SEC game. It's the only game on Thursday night so everybody is going to be watching it. We just have to go out there and fly around and get to the ball."