[Premium article] I caught up with Willie while trying to get in touch with his coach. Unknown to me, Willie answered the phone. I thought he was one of the assistant coaches. When I mentioned to him I wanted to talk to the head coach about him, he told me he was Willie Evans. Here is my interview with Willie and Wayne County HS assistant coach Chapman. Coach Chapman coaches the freshman team as well as the defensive line on the varsity team.

Coach Chapman played both O-Line and D-Line in high school and offensive line at Mississippi Valley State University.

Here is Willie Evans' portion of the interview:

Have you got time to talk right now, or do you have a class you need to go to?
"I've got time."

I'm not sure if you've ever heard of my webpage. It is called Gene's Page.
"Yes, I've heard of it."

You are about to be on it, I hope you don't mind.
"No, I don't mind."

The Clarion-Ledger lists you at 6-2, 260. Is that correct?
"Yes sir."

What is your forty time?
"I ran my best at 4.8."

Man, that is pretty good for a guy your size. Do you know what your bench and squat is?
"I benched 315 and squatted 610."

You've some really strong legs. When did you squat that?
"In the spring, power-lifting, probably in May."

Are you on Wayne County High School's power-lifting team?
"Yes, I am on the power-lifting team."

How old are you, Willie?

Seventeen? You are seventeen and you can bench and squat that much weight?
"Yes sir."

When will you be 18?
"In March."

I've heard that you are visiting Mississippi State this weekend. Is that correct?
"Yes sir."

Tell me about the schools that are recruiting you other than Mississippi State.
"Late this summer, prior to school starting, I committed to Southern Miss. Schools started dropping off of me after that. Mississippi State started calling me lately. Auburn has called lately."

When did they start calling you?
"It was probably about December 15th or sometime near then."

Did they give you a reason why they picked back up on you then?
"They said that they were impressed with my play."

Who have you set up official visits with other than Mississippi State and Southern Miss?
"Those are the only two."

Do you still considerate yourself committed to Southern Miss?
"I still consider myself committed to Southern."

Have you ever been to Mississippi State?
"I came up my 11th grade year to see them play Arkansas."

How far is it from where you live?
"It is about a 3 hour drive."

Do you know any of the players at Mississippi State?
"I know players but I don't know them personally. I know they are recruiting (Jerious) Norwood and (Richard) Burch and I played against them in high school."

What did you think of Jerious as a player?
"He is awesome, man. You can't find a running back better."

What makes him so good?
"He is small, skinny, fast and he runs the ball hard. At first touch, those kind of runners are going to fall, but Norwood, he always seems to get out of tackles somehow. You aren't going to find many guys like that. "

What did you think of Burch?
"He is a pretty good guy. He has good feet, he can move."

Talking about quick feet, you have excellent 4.8 speed in the forty. Do you also consider yourself as having quick feet also?
"I think I have quick feet. I assume that coaches see me on film and feel that I have quick feet."

What have the Southern and Mississippi State coaches told you that they like about you?
"Southern said I am quick and can fit right in to their defensive style. State believes I can fit right in also, because I run the ball hard and I can block."

What made you decide to visit Mississippi State?
"I used to want to go to Mississippi State. That was the first place I wanted to go. Then, I decided Southern would be better because it is closer to where I stay.

"Mississippi State wants me to play offense and I'm a defensive player. I can play offense because I played on both sides of the ball at Wayne County. I'm just looking at my options to see if I like it up there. I'm going up there to see how it really is. I didn't really get a good look when I went my 11th grade year."

What does State want you to play?
"They want me to play fullback."

How did you do as a fullback in high school?
"I did alright."

What is Southern recruiting you as?
"As a defensive lineman."

Do you prefer defensive line?
"I play both about the same. If offense is what I am better at, then they can put me there. That is how I feel about it."

How far is Southern from where you are located?
"About a 45 minute drive."

How important is it for your family to come see you play?
"That is very important. I feel like I am still in Wayne County when I'm at Southern. Everybody can be there to see me play."

How have you enjoyed the recruiting process?
"I have enjoyed it. It has been fun. I'm excited about going on my visits."

Thank you, Willie. You have really been fun to interview.
"Thank you."

Here is Coach Chapman's portion of the interview:

How about telling me what makes Willie such a special player.
"Willie is a very good athlete. He helps us out tremendously. The thing about him is he was the only kid to go both ways. He played fullback for us as well as noseguard. He showed tremendous leadership on the field. And he is just a great kid. Everybody throughout the community looks up to him, respects him and loves him."

When did he first start for you?
"He started as a sophomore at the fullback position. The next year, because he was so quick and he grew so much over the summer, we also played him on the defensive line."

What was his size as a sophomore?
"He was about 5-11, 200."

He was small compared to now.
"Yes, he did a lot of growing from his sophomore to junior year. He put on a lot of weight and got strong.

"We felt like we could utilize his quickness as well as his size at not only fullback but at noseguard also."

Have you ever coached a player that has the great combination of speed, strength and size as Willie has?
"No, I have never coached one like Willie, but I played with several guys like that. Willie is the type of kid that if you took him out of a high school and put him with other kids with his unique ability, then you have a great college football team."

If you could pick one thing about him, athletic-ability wise, that sets him apart from other kids, what would it be?
"His quickness for his size. You will look at his forty speed and say that is decent, but he has really good lateral movement. You can't tell that from his forty speed. Maybe, if you had something like a ten-yard sprint, you could see his great explosiveness."

You mentioned that he is very well thought of throughout Wayne County High School.
"He is well thought of all throughout the community, not just in the school. It is not a color factor either, everybody, white and black, is drawn to him."

He mentioned that he committed to Southern during the summer. He feels that caused quite a few schools to back off a little bit. Who was looking at him prior to that?
"I had folks come in the spring from LSU, Auburn (the D-Line coach), Ole Miss and different ones. After he made his verbal commitment, everybody just backed off."

What did the college coaches say about him during the spring?
"Everybody was very impressed with him. They liked his explosiveness when the ball was snapped. That was the biggest thing that they liked."

Mississippi State is recruiting him as a fullback, while the other schools were looking at him at noseguard. Have they told you why they like him as a fullback?
"Meridian (High School) had this big noseguard who wound up going to Alabama. They came down to look at him, but they couldn't help but notice this sophomore from Wayne County playing fullback. I guess they kind of fell in love with him at that point. They have kept up with him. He had good stats on that side of the ball. When he was in the game, we made sure he had the ball in his hands."

Man, he was a man among boys being a 6-2, 260-pound fullback (laugh).
"(Laugh) No doubt. I think it encouraged the linemen to block a little better because they knew they were going to be blocked or get ran over."

My page is not only a Mississippi State page, but I also post information on Mississippi high school underclassmen as well. Do you have other players who you would like to see me add to my underclassmen list?
"We have a junior and a sophomore. The junior is Akeem Lofton. He is our quarterback. He is about 5-10 and 165 to 170 pounds. He has quick moves and is hard to tackle. The sophomore is Michael McLaughlin. He is about 6-0, 180-pound running back. The last time we timed him, he ran a 4.4 forty. He is a big, strong kid. He is a bullheaded runner. The coach moved him up from my freshman team last year. He was a man among boys on my freshman team. (His junior stats: 181 carries, 1023 yards, 11 TDs)"

Oh, you coach the freshman team also?
"Right, I coach them as well as the D-Line for the varsity.

"I've got a freshman lineman, Jerrell Powe. He is 6-3 and 304. He is 14 years old."

He is just a freshman! Does he have any quickness?
"Oh yea, right now Jerrell runs about a 5.0 flat. He is just undeveloped. He is just a big, strong kid now. He is going to be special, man, I'm telling you. He put four running backs out of games throughout the year. We were undefeated to say the least. We were 8-0. We put him on the varsity team at the end of the season. He did well. He didn't lose a step. He goes us some immediate depth, really. On the varsity, he will play D-Line at first."

Thank you very much, Coach Chapman.
"You are welcome."

Gene Swindoll is the owner of Gene's Page (http://mississippistate.theinsiders.com), the unofficial source for Mississippi State sports on the internet. You can contact him by email at swindoll@genespage.com.

Gene's Page Top Stories