This fire, though, is a little different. With the news of the university trying to suspend linebacker Frank Shannon for one year coming out Monday, his future is uncertain.
Shannon is still practicing with the team, but at any second, his time could run out. And then it would be all up to Evans.
“Jordan is a guy we leaned on heavily last year on special teams,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. He’s somebody who knows our defense. The reps he got a year ago – he’s much better prepared to help us.
“For him, it has a chance to be a real positive experience (this season.). He’s much bigger, much stronger, hopefully he’ll be able to find the ball quicker.”
Evans fared well in his only start, making eight tackles. But he knew going into the offseason, he had to make some changes.
Those changes were evident the first time he walked into the media room. Gone was the undersized middle linebacker. Fifteen pounds heavier, and a lot smarter, Evans is excited to get his sophomore season going.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Evans said. “I’m just trying to get on the field anyway I can. Nobody wants to be a sideline player. From where I left off last year and after the spring game, I know the team expects more of a leadership role out of me.”
The new Evans was on full display in the spring game as one of the more notable happenings of the event was a huge hit by Evans on wide receiver K.J. Young to force an interception.
Everybody realizes it was only one game against the Red Raiders, but a little experience goes a long ways. It’s still something he looks back on and uses for confidence.
“It was very important,” Evans said. “Confidence can carry you a long way. I was able to be productive, got a lot of confidence and carried it on through.
“Now I’m bigger, stronger and faster. Worked a lot on my technique. Offseason and summer – spent working on my pad level.”
Evans missed last week with the flu, including the Saturday scrimmage. But he said it was just a one-time deal, and he is back to normal.
Not highly recruited coming out of Norman (Okla.) North, Evans never gave up the hope that his play would eventually lead to some big offers. The dream was never OU, the dream was for that right offer.
The right offer finally came at the 2012 Bedlam contest when OU offered Evans, the son of former OU offensive lineman Scott Evans. Three days later, Jordan Evans decided he had waited long enough and committed.
Since then, he has done everything that has been asked of him by the players and the staff. More will be asked this season, but he’s OK with that.
“First year is always your building year,” Evans said. “Second year we’re veterans. I know the defense really well now. I see a huge difference from when we were freshmen.”
OU suspended Shannon on June 18 after a Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual assault. Shannon went to district court June 24 and received a stay to allow him to remain enrolled as a student and work with the team.
All Evans can do is support his friend.
“It’s tough,” Evans said. “That’s my friend, I don’t want to see anybody on my team go through that… He’s still the same person to me.”