Since arriving at Colorado, Kyle Evans has done just about everything right.
This year has been especially good for Evans, who has been singled out by his coaches and his starting quarterback already this month.
So, when head coach Mike MacIntyre brought Evans in front of the team on Monday morning and talked about the sophomore walk-on running back facing consequences for a mistake, Evans was surprised.
“He made it seem like I did something wrong,” Evans said. “I didn’t know what I did, but I read the sheet the paper and it turned out to be a scholarship.”
Evans’ mood turned immediately when he read a letter from MacIntyre out load in front of the team, announcing that after two years of playing as a walk-on, he has been awarded a scholarship.
“He started crying and the whole team jumped on top of him,” MacIntyre said. “It was pretty special, because he’s earned the right and he’s going to play a lot of football for us.”
At 5-foot-6, 180 pounds, Evans is the smallest running back on the roster, but MacIntyre said, “Pound for pound, he’s the strongest guy on the team.”
Co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren, running backs coach Darian Hagan and senior starting quarterback Sefo Liufau have all praised Evans so far this month.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a walk-on or a scholarship guy,” Liufau said of Evans last week. “Whoever works the hardest and makes the most plays, you get more trust from your teammates and the coaches and you’re going to get more plays. He’s done a really good job this fall camp.”
Evans played in 10 games last year, mostly on special teams. On offense, he finished with 18 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown, doing most of that (15 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown) against Nicholls State.
Evans is hoping for a bigger role this season.
“Whatever my role is, I just have to do that to the best of my ability,” he said.
That’s what he’s done since arriving here from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif.
“Hard work pays off, to all you walk-ons out there,” Evans said. “Keep working hard. It took me two years, but you have to push through and do what the coaches tell you to do and it’ll work out in the end.
“I knew all I had to do was work hard and eventually, hopefully, it’ll come and I’ll get the scholarship and that’s what happened.”
CU now has 82 players on scholarship, three below the NCAA maximum. MacIntyre said it’s possible the Buffs will award scholarships to more walk-ons.
“We’re still thinking about it,” he said. “We’re looking at some things on that.”
Waiting his turn
During the spring, Steven Montez took on a lead role at quarterback. A redshirt freshman, he took the bulk of the reps with the first-team offense with Liufau nursing a foot injury.
Now that Liufau is back, Montez has returned to a backup role. Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Lindgren said he can tell Montez is frustrated by that change, but understands.
“It’s the competitive kid that he is,” Lindgren said. “At the same time, he realizes this guy (Liufau) has been a three-year starter and he’s been in a lot of different situations, and it’s kind of his time right now.”
Montez also realizes that his opportunity to play could come at any moment, and because of that, he’s grateful he had the spring to practice with the first-teamers.
“When my number is called, I have to go in and make plays,” he said. “I use (Liufau) for help and he’s a great friend of mine, and he’s a leader to me. I use him to my advantage, and I know he has a lot more knowledge and that I can learn from him.”
Lindgren and co-coordinator Darrin Chiaverini have been pleased with how Montez and senior Jordan Gehrke have played this fall, picking up where they left off after a strong spring.
“When the starter who you’ve invested all your reps and all that time, if he goes down you’re always a little bit nervous putting those (backup) guys in, but I do feel better given the spring, with those guys taking all the (first-team) reps against a pretty good defense,” Lindgren said.
After reviewing film of Saturday’s scrimmage at Folsom Field, MacIntyre said he was really impressed with the aggressiveness from both the offensive and defensive lines. … MacIntyre said tight end Dylan Keeney has been making plays as both a tight end and split end. “He’s a good weapon,” he said. … The Pac-12 Network was on hand Monday as part of its tour of the conference training camps. The Buffs’ feature debuted on Monday night.
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.