Over time, Kris Evans has come to fall in love with the idea of Stanford. He was wary at first last spring, and his parents were even more so, of the distance and culture shock that might come with a Cardinal college choice, but the Evans family continually warmed to the idea due to the work of Midwest regional recruiter Ken Margerum. Though Margerum has moved on to another job with the current Stanford coaching transition, the groundwork he laid came to fruition last week as the Monroe, Michigan athlete took his long-awaited official visit to The Farm. Evans returned home beaming about the experience and holding back little of his effusive praise for the school.
"I'm not going to commit yet, but Stanford has is clearly a step above everyone else. They're my number one school by far right now," the two-way standout athlete reported to The Bootleg after his visit. "The visit was really fun. I enjoyed myself a lot."
Evans gives credit to the players, coaches and even the professors he met during his whirlwind 48 hours on campus.
"All the players meshed really well. They hang out a lot together - not in the small groups you might find at other schools. I got along with them a lot. I really enjoyed all the players I met," the recruit reports. "The teachers were really cool, too. There were 21 of them at a brunch with us. Twenty-one! It was too bad Coach Margerum wasn't there any longer, but I loved the coaches. Coach [Walt] Harris is a player's coach. He's quiet, but he's nice and he really knows his stuff. I think Coach [Nate] Hackett stuck out the best among the assistants - for his enthusiasm. Coach [A.J.] Christoff is a really funny guy, too."
One of the hesitations Evans had all along about Stanford was the idea that he would be spending his college experience with a "different" crowd of people not like him. There is the Midwest vs. West Coast cultural gap and associated stereotypes, of course, but he was more concerned about a football team full of eggheads. He did not know if he would fit in and be comfortable, but instead found much to the contrary.
"I enjoyed the guys a lot better than I thought," Evans explains. "The atmosphere was nothing like I expected. I thought it would be a bunch of smart people or a bunch of rich people, and I'd really have a hard time getting along. But everyone was cool - real cool. It surprised me how smart all the players were, while still being cool. We were playing Jeopardy on a PlayStation, and a lot of players knew a lot of things. They're really smart. I mean, really smart."
That still left one lingering fear for the Monroe High School senior: would he be smart enough to hold his head above water at this school? It was a key question he asked of people throughout the weekend.
"A lot of people told me that once you get in, they work to help you succeed and keep you there," he offers. "So now I just have to find out if I get admitted, which is the biggest part. I had a 22 on my ACT; I retook it and got a 22 again. But I upped some things and some went down. Stanford takes the highest score from the different parts of your tests and combines them, so that would give me a 24. I also had a teacher recommendation that needed to be fixed because that teacher is now a principal, so my mom back home was working on getting a new rec faxed in while I was on my visit."
Evans' other visits on the books this month are to Boston College and Buffalo; a Toledo visit was cancelled due to a basketball conflict. The trip to Boston this weekend to see the Eagles would be the most significant to watch in this race. They are the "other big fish" and offered Evans in the last month. But if Evans is admitted to Stanford, it will take something momentous and surprising to pull him away from The Farm.
"They're my top school right now," he says of Stanford. "I just need to get admitted. But even if I find that out, I feel like I should take these visits. I told the coaches I would come out to visit them and give them a chance."
"Coach Harris and Coach Hackett were just in on Monday and didn't tell me anything new. I'm just waiting and will go from there. I'll check out BC and see how I like it. But so far Stanford is on top."
Evans has gone back and forth on his position he would play at Stanford. He originally was slated for defense as a cornerback, but his senior film convinced the Cardinal that he could be a serious playmaker on offense and moved him to their wide receiver board. Now the two-way athlete is conflicted as to which side of the ball he would like to embrace.
"If I go out there, I am now thinking maybe I might play corner," he opines. "I love playing receiver, but they have some real opportunities on defense. We've talked about a bunch of positions, and that may take a while to get all straightened out."
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