Texas A&M University Aggies
Ball High School
Teammates and opponents alike call Evans one of the toughest players they have ever seen — more fearless that a warrior going into battle vs. insurmountable odds. His size creates huge mismatches vs. the smaller cornerbacks, as he is built more in the lines of a tight end, which are usually covered by safeties and linebackers.
During his 26-game career with the Aggies, no safety or linebacker has been able to handle that challenge, though, as Evans' verified 4.53 speed is hard to defend vs. by second level opponents. He has recorded at least six receptions in 14 of his appearances and only once did he have less that four catches in a contest.
Evans has gained at least 100 yards receiving in nine games and boasts the two highest receiving yardage performances in school history. In just two seasons at Texas A&M, he became one of only five players that have worn Aggies colors to gain over 2,000 yards receiving and one of five to amass at least 150 catches, along with joining that other quartet as one of five with at least 15 touchdown grabs.
Tough numbers for almost any receiver to match, much less surpass. Perhaps converting from basketball to football, and becoming the man of the house at age nine, is certainly a testament to toughness that Evans possesses. The redshirt sophomore from Galveston's Ball High School displayed some serious Randy-Moss like talent in his first year as a starter for the Aggies in 2012, catching 82 passes for 1,105 yards. Only Ryan Swope's 89 receptions in 2011 top Evans' single-season mark in the annals of Aggie football.
Ironically, Evans almost didn't make it to Texas A&M or any other college campus to play football. He was a basketball star in high school, averaging 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds as a senior for Ball High. Evans, who personally enjoys his between-the-legs dunk off the bounce, was a hoops highlight reel on the island, as fans packed the Ball High gym to watch one of Galveston's all-time greatest athletes.
His basketball prowess drew attention across the state, as Texas topped his scholarship offer list. And because Evans had played just one year of high school football, certainly his future would be on the hardwood. "I did both sports growing up, but when I got to high school I chose to focus on basketball," says the soft-spoken Evans.
"And my senior year, I came out and played football. The coaches tried to get me out to play my sophomore year when they saw my height and everything. I just put them off. My friends told me at the end of my junior year to come play, so I decided to play.
"It was a 50-50 decision: Texas for basketball or A&M for football. I was like, ‘Why play football this last year and not pursue it in the future?' So, I decided to play football. Football was going to be the best as a life choice."
A raw football prospect out of high school, Evans was garnering some attention from schools around the state. While A&M jumped on Evans' recruiting trail late, the allure of Aggieland closed the deal with Evans on a trip to College Station during Cotton Bowl preparations in 2010.
He had never seen a game at Kyle Field, and yet Evans didn't hesitate in accepting a scholarship offer from then-head coach Mike Sherman. "It was December 18th, 2010, I committed that day," Evans added. "I liked it. It's close to home, and I liked A&M from the jump." But as easy as it was to make the decision to attend A&M, Evans hasn't glided through life like on one of his takeoffs on a Rec Center dunk.
In fact, the adversity Evans has had to overcome is revealed in plain sight, a lifetime of memories borne out on his tattooed arms. On his right arm reads: "R.I.P" near his bicep and "Mickey" near his elbow, which is a reference to Evans' father, Mike Evans Jr., who was murdered during some kind of feud when Evans was just nine-years-old.
"The day of his funeral, he went and played a Little League football game," said Evans' mother, Heather Kilgore. "He scored two touchdowns that day. He said, ‘I wish my daddy could have seen it.' And I told him he did. And then he kind of looked up and said, ‘Yeah, I think he did, too.'"
Indeed, Evans' tough demeanor on the football field is only surpassed by his resolve off of it. "I just looked at it as everyone has to go at some point, and that was his time," said Evans, who is the father of a 1-year-old girl. "I know he's looking down on me proud right now. Everything I do, I do for him to make him proud."
So far, during his two years at Texas A&M, consider it mission accomplished. Evans transformed from a lanky, raw prospect into an All-American and All-Southeastern Conference "beast." With his strong hands, long arms and incredible body control, Evans just concluded another sensational year in 2013, first breaking the school game-record with a 279-yard receiving performance vs. SEC powerhouse Alabama, and then, breaking that mark with 287 yards vs. Auburn, setting another record with four touchdown grabs vs. the Tigers.
Neither of those Southeastern Conference opponents had been "torched" like that vs. any other opponent in recent memory. As the lone returning starter in the Aggie receiving corps, Evans knew he would be the main target in A&M's insanely explosive offense and more than lived up to those weekly challenges, leading the league while finishing tenth in the nation in touchdown catches (12, which tied the school season record) in 2013.
In 2012, Evans was one of the league's and NCAA's best receivers as a redshirt freshman, and he played half of the season with a gimpy hamstring. "It was nagging," Evans said of his injury. "I hurt it vs. Louisiana Tech, and then I kept re-straining it every week. I tried my hardest to go full speed, and every time I did I'd hear it pop again. It was painful, and I had to get it wrapped and have shots…it was painful. It was frustrating, but I just kept doing what I can to help the team. "
Fully recovered from those hamstring problems, Evans began turning heads daily with his improved route running and knack for the big play, as professional scouts flocked to College Station to witness those performances. "He can be scary when healthy because he played half of the season if not more with a nagging hamstring," A&M receivers coach David Beaty said. "He still practiced. We tried to hold him out, but he simply wouldn't let us. That dude is tough.
In 2013, Evans grasped the nuances of Kevin Sumlin's offense and the game of football itself, making him one of the coveted draft prospects that his coaches predict is on the fast track to more stardom and a career in the NFL. Not bad for a former power forward from Galveston Ball High. "He understands spatial awareness," Beaty added. "He knows how to get into passing lanes. In basketball, it's all about passing lanes and creating a passing lane so you can receive the ball. Playing receiver is very much the same. His body control and body position is so good because he knows how to rebound.
"We run a play where he runs a 10-yard stop, and vs. cover-2 that's not a very good play because the corner just sits on it. But we'll keep that on with him because he'll run out there and box the guy out, and Johnny can get it to him. Mike understands how to go out there and position himself so the guy can't get between him and the ball."
Entering his sophomore season, Evans, usually quiet and reserved, had one message for his teammates. "If everybody plays to their potential, and we get it down pat and play with discipline, we can probably be one of the best offenses ever in college football." With Evans flying down field to snare the long tosses from Johnny Manziel, the Aggies led the Southeastern Conference in pass completion percentage 969.3%; fourth nationally), passing yardage (351.3 ypg; seventh in the FBS), pass efficiency (169.9 rating; fourth-best in the NCAA) and total offense (538.4 ypg; fourth in the country).
It is hard to imagine when you witness Evans on the playing field "toying" with corner-backs that the former second-team District 24-4A receiver came out of Ball High School with only 25 receptions for 648 yards and seven touchdowns to show for his prep career. His talent on the basketball court saw him leave that high school after he averaged 18.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game as a senior.
Evans redshirted in 2011 during his first year art College Station, but the following year, his 82 receptions placed second on the school season-record list, while his 1,105 yards receiving is third-best in A&M annals. Despite those numbers, he only received one All-American notice from a publication and was just a Freshman All-SEC pick.
Evans reaped lots of postseason honors the following year, as the Biletnikoff Award finalist and Maxwell Award semifinalist earned first-team All-American and All-SEC honors. He finished the season with 1,394 yards receiving, the fourth-highest total in school annals, becoming the only Aggie to ever record 1,000-yards in multiple seasons. He added 12 touchdowns on 69 receptions, as 28 of those grabs were for twenty yards or longer.
Three days after the Aggies defeated Duke in a hard-fought 52-48 battle at the Chick fil-A Bowl, Evans announced that he would forego his final two seasons of collegiate eligibility and enter the 2014 NFL Draft. "It's been a pleasure watching Mike's development as a receiver and a person the past two seasons," head coach Kevin Sumlin said.
"Mike was one of the team's hardest workers in whatever he was doing, and it paid off for him on the field. I think one of the highest compliments you can say about Mike is that he plays as hard when he doesn't have the ball in his hands as when he does. Texas A&M wishes him the best as he moves on to the next chapter in his life."
"After talking things over with Coach Sumlin and my family I have decided to enter the NFL draft," Evans said. "Thanks go to Texas A&M for giving me an opportunity to play college football. Thanks also to my coaches and teammates for helping me develop as a player and as a man. I made this decision based on what I thought was best for myself and my family."
Evans started all 26 games that he played in at Texas A&M, finishing his career with 151 receptions for 2,499 yards (16.55 ypc) and 17 touchdowns, scoring 102 points while also recording four solo tackles…Had at least four receptions in all but one of his appearances for the Aggies.