120218-sw-gamer

Palmer Ridge quarterback Ty Evans tries to avoid being tackled by Pueblo East’s Joe Padula in the CHSAA 3A Football Championships at the Neta & Eddie DeRose Thunderbowl at CSU-Pueblo on Saturday December 1, 2018 in Pueblo. (Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

DENVER • If Palmer Ridge star quarterback Ty Evans leaves N.C. State and becomes the next Philip Rivers or Russell Wilson, there’s going to be some explaining to do from the Colorado side.

Unless new CU coach Mel Tucker wins a bunch of games and Pac-12 titles with other players, of course. Then no one’s going to bat an eye.

That’s a truly handy thing about sports. They tend to reveal what was smart and what was dumb, what was prescient and what was arrogant, what looks brilliant these days and what aches for a mulligan.

Still, this one is going to roll some eyes in a Colorado high school coaching community that’s justifiably fed up with how its Division I prospects have been evaluated by recent CU coaching staffs:

Evans, a 6-foot-2, 192-pound senior who’s held offers from Alabama and Michigan, told The Gazette’s Lindsey Smith he’s decommitting from CU to sign a national letter of intent with N.C. State. Evans felt CU didn’t present a clear vision for its new offense, and, staying true to his recruitment, flipped to a program with whom he’s comfortable.

It’s a win-win-win for Evans (a gifted passer who visited Raleigh last week and plans to sign with the quarterback-famous Pack next week), N.C. State (which landed a state Gatorade player of the year once invited to the prestigious Elite 11 finals) and CU (if Tucker recruits enough good players from elsewhere and, like I was saying, wins a bunch of games).

That’s the rosey perspective that comes with being a head coach in your first week as a head coach. At his introduction, Tucker’s presence filled the room while his bowl rings can fill a dresser drawer. Hasn’t coached a game yet, but Tucker’s the Buffs’ best chance to win like Bill McCartney and Gary Barnett since Bill McCartney and Gary Barnett.

“Good players make a good coach,” Tucker said.

Does it matter where the good players come from? Eh, not a ton. Fast in Florida is fast at Folsom Field. Burly lineman make pancakes in California or Colorado. Stud QBs fling it no matter their zip code. Just ask Pomona’s Max Borghi (Washington State), Cherry Creek’s Alex Padilla (Iowa) or Valor’s Luke McCaffrey (Nebraska). Or South’s Phillip Lindsay (CU).

But recruiting the local kids does offer some benefits that CU too often takes for granted. It fills the reserves with goodwill. It buys time. That three-game losing streak doesn’t seem all that bad because, well, check out all the local kids on the field! And they’re not even related to the head coach! And they’re not playing for Wazzu!

CU hoops’ Tad Boyle crushes it in the local-kid department. Josh Scott, Wes Gordon, Dom Collier, Derrick White, Daylen Kountz, Dallas Walton. Don’t need to get ‘em all, but when a good one comes along with no funny business in the recruitment, work like heck to get it done.

What I like about Evans’ game is he doesn’t freak out under pressure. Frantic pass rush, low snap, early deficit, he’s got this. The recruiting process has been the same, adjusting to Bret Bielema getting fired at Arkansas (his original commitment) to Mike MacIntyre getting fired at Colorado (his second one) to, finally, his pledge to N.C. State and the ACC, half a world away.

Likewise, Tucker knows a quarterback when he sees one. He helped recruit Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith to Ohio State. And if Tucker could put in a word with the Broncos about Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm, with whom he competed for a national championship, that would be awfully swell. Please.

But please don’t ignore the state of Colorado. Losing Pac-12 games is one thing, but losing while local kids shine elsewhere has dragged on for too long.

(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at paul.klee@gazette.com or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)

comments powered by Disqus