Ty Evans is talented and diligent but most importantly he’s a realist who learns from mistakes.
He knows dominating 3A high school defenders in Colorado offers only light preparation for dominating Atlantic Coast Conference defenders as quarterback for the North Carolina State Wolfpack.
A year ago, Evans had just finished a breezy, ultra-dominating season for Palmer Ridge. He charged through a 14-0 campaign with barely a blemish while leading one of the most talent-laden 3A teams in state history.
It was inevitable that he fell a little too deeply in love with the power and accuracy of his right arm. Then, in August, he crashed into Pine Creek’s and Pueblo East’s snarling and wise defenses.
Pine Creek coach Todd Miller and Pueblo East coach Andy Watts are brilliant students of the game who spent hours examining film of Evans. The coaches and their players exposed Evans’ weaknesses. He tossed eight interceptions in losses to Pine Creek and Pueblo East.
“Tonight, we were better than he was,” Miller announced after Pine Creek’s 27-12 victory. “I mean, flat out. We picked him three times. We rushed him. I think we were able to confuse him a little bit.”
Here’s when the realist emerged. Here’s when a high school superstar humbly accepted harsh lessons. Here’s when, in the midst of struggle, Evans revealed he has the right stuff to eventually start at North Carolina State.
He learned from his errors, which were many. He turned down, just a little, his belief in the wonders of his right arm. He wisely and at times cautiously led the Bears to a repeat state title.
Some quarterbacks refuse to learn from mistakes. I wonder what damage to NFL defenses could have been delivered by a less-madly-in-love-with-self version of Jay Cutler.
I don’t wonder about John Elway. The King of Colorado threw 157 interceptions vs. 158 touchdowns in his first 10 seasons with the Broncos. His show was massively entertaining, but flawed.
A more restrained Elway threw 69 interceptions vs. 142 touchdowns in his final six seasons and won two Super Bowls. Elway embraced restraint and grew into one of NFL history’s top five quarterbacks.
College stardom is not a lock for Evans. North Carolina State operates a pass-happy offense, which means the Wolfpack are a magnet for sensational high school quarterbacks from across America.
Freshman Matt McKay serves as current backup to senior Ryan Finley, who traveled to Raleigh from Phoenix to throw for 11,000-plus career yards. McKay is a former 4-star recruit, and — trust me — he expects to start the next three seasons. Evans will spend his career competing against other can’t-miss QB high school superstars. It will be a vicious challenge every day.
You can thrive, and see playing time, as reserve running back or linemen or linebacker or defensive back. Meanwhile, backup college quarterbacks spend Saturdays wandering the sideline, trying and failing to appear busy.
What a terrible gig.
I understand, after covering college football in four different decades, the peril and challenge waiting for Evans, but what matters most is he understands the peril and challenge, too.
A few months ago, Evan discussed the reality of high school football in Colorado. His native state is not the land of football fanaticism. It’s not Texas or Florida or Georgia.
Evans said, correctly, that an “asterisk” hovered over his name because he collected his immense numbers passing against 3A competition in Colorado.
A gifted realist with a ferocious appetite for work is seeking, with everything within him, to remove that asterisk.
I believe in him.