Art Evans is grateful

Art Evans' playing career flashed before his eyes last season.

The Tennessee defensive back found himself sliding from starter to suspended in November when he failed to pay car payments on a vehicle he purchased last spring. That led to an investigation to determine if any NCAA issues might arise. Finally, they did not and Evans was reinstated in January.

"It's a blessing because everything could be taken from you just like that," the senior said. "Never take anything for granted."

That made Monday even more special, as Evans and a handful of his teammates helped guide almost 100 kids through light-hearted drills for UT's Punt, Pass and Kick event which is sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club.

"It's awesome; that feeling to see them smile and have fun, I like being around kids and I would like to work with them in the future," said Evans, who recalled participating in similar events with Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis while Evans was a kid in Lakeland, Fla.

Forgive Evans, however, if he's ready to move forward. Now that he's reinstated, he's ready to start preparing for the 2011 season.

"I'm ready to get back out and work out with the team (in spring practice) and help get one of these banners up," Evans said as he pointed to some of the championship banners hanging in the Neyland-Thompson complex.

Evans and his fellow defensive backs face a unique challenge this spring. They'll be without projected starting safety Janzen Jackson, who has withdrawn from classes to attend to personal issues. The Vols also could be without starting safety Brent Brewer who has been suspended since being charged with a domestice violence incident.

"He's doing good," Evans said. "A lot of people should recognize that he has grown up a lot; he's more mature."

Evans said he's confident the rest of UT's defensive backs will step up to the challenge this spring, despite the fact that many of UT's incoming defensive back prospects won't arrive on campus until summer sessions begin in June.

Evans is used to much more transition. This is the first off-season since 2009 that he hasn't had a new head coach to grow accustomed to. This year, he knows plenty about head coach Derek Dooley.

"That's the greatest thing - the trust relationship," Evans said. "He's not going anywhere for a while and he can help bring us a championship. Dooley is an upfront and honest guy."

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