The Bayou Bomber

<b>UNDER THE RADAR, way down south in rural Central Louisiana, Cory Evans has carved out a name for himself starring on defense, offense and special teams. He's done it playing in the smallest classification league in the state, at a school that houses every student in the area, Pre-K through 12th. But as his coach says, he's the hardest hitter and finest player he's ever seen in more than 30 years of coaching.

Cory Evans, a safety and running back who projects as a college outside linebacker, visited Washington State this past weekend and, according to his prep coach, enjoyed himself very much.

Northwestern and Arkansas have come calling this recruiting season as well as every school in Louisiana save for LSU.

Whether the 6-2.5, 215-pound Evans ends up at WSU may hinge on how his family feels about him traveling so far from home.

His coach told CF.C that Evans is hitter supreme, consistenly authoring Kodak moments at the expense of the opposition.

"I've been coaching 31 years and he's the best I've ever had," said Northwood High coach Tom O'Kelly. "He's awesome. He has lots of, what we call 'Sports Illustrated pictures'. He's a decleater guy."

There's a more well-known DB in the state who projects at linebacker at the next level -- Nic Harris. Harris attends Alexandria, a large school that receives plenty of publicity. He holds scholarship offers various majors. Evans comes from a school whose total student body, Pre-K through 12, numbers far less than Alexandria's grades 8-12. Evans has flown under the radar for most major programs. Yet when they went head to head against the same competition, Evans was clearly the more physical defender according to several observers.

EVANS STARRED AT Northwood High in Lena, a tiny town in Northwest Rapides Parish. Northwood is the only school in all of central Louisiana in Class A, so plays a lot of games out of its classification. No matter, Evans has been voted first team All-state by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association two years running. He also took home the district MVP honors on offense this year.

"He'd have won on both sides of the ball but we didn't win districts, so it would have been hard to give him both," laughed O'Kelly.

Evans logged 125 tackles and 6 interceptions.

"He was our free safety but he was more our run support guy," said Kelly.

He also did just about everything else. Besides his defensive exploits, Evans was the team's punter, kickoff returner, punt returner and running back. He rushed for 1,500 yards on 231 carries with 22 rushing touchdowns and 8 two point conversions.

"He didn't come off the field," said O'Kelly.

AT A SMALL school, an injury to one of your star players can be particularly devastating. In order to guard against that, and to overcome some of those "numbers-game" limitations, O'Kelly went with a "double tight wing" most of the year even though he prefers to run the more traditional two-back sets. The last game of the season, he told Evans, 'Okay, you're going to be a real live tailback this game' and the Gators went to the traditional I-back.

"He rushed the ball 32 times for 256, ran a kickoff back, completed 3 passes," said O'Kelly. "And he had 22 tackles on defense, intercepted one ball and knocked down three. So that was a pretty good night."

How is it the Cougs came calling down in Louisiana? Linebackers coach Leon Burtnett has spent decades cultivating relationships across the country. One of his coaching stints came at Northeast Louisiana, where he was defensive coordinator from 1996-98.

THE COUGS have a history of taking quality high school running backs and turning them into great linebackers who will smash you in the mouth -- take Scott Davis for example. Evans could very well be that kind of player.

"He's very physical," O'Kelly said. "VERY physical. He'll put his hat on you in a heartbeat."

Evans played this year at 215. O'Kelly said there was no doubt he had the frame to put on muscle and pointed out Evans has never really been in a weight program. Also, Evans is playing basketball right now (at about 208) and participates in sports year round, so he doesn't have as much time to hit the weights as often as he'd like. In a program like the one at Washington State, O'Kelly said Evans could turn into something very special.

And Evans is already pretty special in the eyes of his coach.

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