Marcus Evans Profile
I know you played for Starkville High School but I'm not sure when you graduated.
"I played for Coach (Chuck) Friend and graduated in 2001."
What kind of football career did you have at Starkville?
"I started a few games as a sophomore. It was a good experience that year because I was playing under Milton Smith, who played at Mississippi State. Coach Smith left at the end of that year to go to Tupelo. So, during my junior season I played under Coach Patton. He, and Coach Fisher, who coached me at linebacker my senior year, really helped me out a lot.
"Playing at Starkville High was a great experience. I actually transferred to Starkville High my freshman year from county school. Once I moved up, it was a shock because I had so much equipment to choose from. In county school you don't have much.
"Something that really motivated me in high school was having my (identical twin) brother with me. We were always competing against each other and always trying to do what we could to better each other. If he did something good, I had to do it also."
What schools recruited you out of high school?
"I received calls from Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Delta State, Kentucky, Alcorn and Jackson State.
"During my senior season I hurt my shoulder. I was supposed to have surgery but I didn't, but I guess the coaches heard that I had surgery or something and they backed off me at the last minute. I guess they didn't want to take a risk on me. Plus, I was playing strong safety at 182 and about 5-8 to 5-9. I guess they thought I was too small"
Although a lot of the colleges back off, you wound up at Alcorn State. Talk about playing there.
"My first year I had to sit out due to grades. The next year I started a couple of games. I was playing track at the same time as spring football because track was helping me out with my school and my books. During the summer, I received a letter from (the Alcorn coaches) telling me that I wasn't going to get a scholarship for football.
"Because of that, I decided to transfer. Since Mississippi State has my major (Architecture) and it is close to home, I decided to transfer to State."
You came in last fall. How did you do?
"The situation was tough because I wasn't able to play due to the transfer rule. My first week on the field I impressed the coaches enough that (former MSU defensive coordinator) Coach Cooper wanted to play me but I couldn't due to having to sit out. That was discouraging.
"Then, Coach Croom came in and instilled in us that it is a new start for everybody and that anybody, even walk-ons, can play for this team. That encouraged me. I am so glad he came in. It was like a blessing for Mississippi State and all of us. He is like a father figure because he knows when to be hard on you and also when to lighten up a little."
You really seemed to take what he said to heart, because you really stood out during the spring. Talk about your spring.
"I started out at cornerback and played it for about a week. I even went through the first spring scrimmage at corner. I made a couple of good plays, but I didn't get too many reps because we had so many corners. Because of that, they decided I wasn't going to get enough reps to show them what I really had, so they moved me to strong safety. That wasn't a problem because I had played it in high school and college. From then on, Jeramie Johnson and I got almost all of the snaps. That was an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime because the coach gave me an opportunity to show what I could do."
Did your position coach talk with each player after the end of the spring? If so, what were the things he liked and the things he felt you needed to continue to work on?
"The negative thing (Coach Ellis Johnson) had to say about me was that I needed to get into my playbook some more. Because I moved from corner to safety during the spring, I wasn't able to learn the plays like I needed to. The positive thing he liked was that I was always flying to the ball even though I didn't always know the defensive calls. He said, even if I made a mistake I still went 100%. He also said that I am a hard worker and that he liked that."
What are some other things he wants you to work on during the summer?
"He wants me to get bigger, stronger and faster and not lose my effort. He said my effort was what got me noticed."
You wound up 2nd on the depth chart. How much do you expect to play next season?
"Coach Johnson said he expects me to play next year."
You mentioned your brother earlier. Is he at Mississippi State also?
"Yes, he runs track. We transferred to Mississippi State the same time."
How's he doing?
"He's doing pretty good. He's an alternate on the 400 meter hurdles."
Switching back to football, on my message board MSU fans like to guess what the football team's record will be next year. What is your hope for this coming season?
"I want us to be undefeated, but you never know what will happen."
If you could tell the MSU fans what this team will be like, what would you say?
"You can expect 100% effort all of the time, no matter what the outcome is. If we are losing, we will give 100%. We are also going to be leaders, on and off the field."
Someone posted on my message board that he had heard Coach Croom expected the players to sit on the front row in class and always be attentive in class. Is that true?
"What he said is that in the classroom we should want to sit in the front. He didn't say we had to, he just recommended that we do it. Plus, he said we will get a better understanding of what the teachers is teaching if we sit in the front."
It sounds like he's expecting you guys to be leaders, not only on the field, but in the classroom.
"In the classroom and in Starkville, really. People look at football players as role models. Let's say if you go somewhere in town and a disturbance happens. If you are a football player and you get involved in it, the next thing you know your name is in the paper. You have to realize that you are not just representing yourself but the other 90 to 100 people on the football team."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher/owner of Gene's Page, a website that has been providing Mississippi State sports coverage to MSU fans since October, 1996, and the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org