Highlights/Analysis: Craig Evans

Badger Nation shares highlights and analysis of Sun Prairie (Wis.) High 2014 defensive tackle Craig Evans from his team's 45-7 victory Friday.

SUN PRAIRIE - Craig Evans finished unofficially with one tackle and one pass deflection in Friday's 45-7 victory over Janesville Craig, hardly eye-popping numbers for one of the best junior defensive tackles in the Midwest. But watching him work and how teams try to neutralize him, the lack of productivity is a credit to the junior's above-average abilities.

Against the Cougars, Evans rarely had a run play sent in his direction, as Janesville Craig seemed to know whether he was lined up at nose tackle or as a rush defensive end. When the Cougars had to pass, it was a quick drop, not willing to hold on to the ball to let Evans make a play.

"It's most definitely frustrating when I can't get in and make a play when I am a D-1 athlete," said Evans. "I kind of want to do my own thing, but I know it's a team."

Evans is a big body – 6-3 and between 325 and 330 pounds, he says – and that creates extra attention. When Janesville Craig decided to run his direction or take a five-step drop, the Cougars put upwards of three offensive linemen to try and buy the quarterback some time.

"I had a little downfall moment when my coach and my defensive line coach had to tell me I was doing amazing," said Evans. "I didn't see it, but they see it because I had three linemen on me. That was freeing up the linebackers, so whatever I have to do to help the team. I know teams are making an offensive scheme around me to take me out of the play, so I am cool as long as our team is making plays."

Through three weeks of the Wisconsin high school football season, Sun Prairie is ranked second in the state's highest division and is a perfect 3-0 because of its defense. The Cardinals are allowing 6.7 points per game, holding all three of its opponents to less than seven points.

"We have a lot of coaches here that teach us everything step by step," said Evans. "Freshmen to sophomore year, the coaches told me that I had to be more explosive off the ball. Sophomore to this year, coaches told me that I have to use my hands more. I am always learning. My biggest problem I have to work on is staying low and being a little more explosive. I tend to take plays off a little bit and if I fix that, I could be a pretty good d-tackle."

Most schools already think so, as Evans holds four verbal offers from Michigan State, Nebraska, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. He also says Georgia, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Texas and UCLA have started showing him considerable interest.

Originally from Mississippi, Evans never had an ideal college growing up, which is why he wants to keep his options open.

"Right now I am kind of leaning toward Wisconsin because I have love for them and I have a strong connection with the coaches, but I want to look at other schools," said Evans. "To be quite honest, I want to wait until after my junior year. I want to sit down and talk with my parents to find out what's best for me."

Analysis: Evans wants to be that player that makes plays, so the role of Sun Prairie coach Brian Kaminski is a vital one.

"He's making a huge difference for us," said Kaminski. "He's big and he can move."

Evans didn't get a lot of work thrown his way and his night was cut short when he started suffering some leg cramps late in the second half of the blowout. Even so, Evans showed plenty of impressive attributes. For one, he can take on and break double teams and his size is certainly a weapon in the middle of that Sun Prairie defense, as teams simply can't run up the middle.

In my opinion, I think Evans is too big. A couple of times against Janesville Craig, Evans let the quarterback get outside of him when he had outside containment. Evans moves well for his size (he also plays basketball to stay in shape), but he'll be a better asset to a team if he can shave off 15-20 pounds and tone his frame. Evans also struggled staying on his feet, a product of being worn down by one too many double teams and a somewhat slick grass field after an afternoon rain shower.

No question that Evans has the right tools and makeup to be a player at the college level, especially if he tones his body and plays with an aggressive style on every play. Evans and Wisconsin commit Jaden Gault play AAU basketball together and are good friends, so that could help the recruiting process for Wisconsin, which is where, I think, he'll end up.

Craig Evans, Wisconsin

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