Oklahoma LB Evans grows after rough film session with dad

AP News
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Posted: Nov 30, 2016 5:58 PM

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — It's one thing to have a bad game and have to discuss it with dad.

It's another when your father was a three-time all-conference defensive lineman at Oklahoma, the very school whose defense you anchored — or in Jordan Evans' case, didn't anchor against Texas Tech. The Sooners gave up 854 yards in a 66-59 victory on Oct. 22, and Scott Evans wasn't happy about Jordan's performance at inside linebacker.

Father and son watched film together and it was a rough session.

"Probably one of the hardest things I've had to do was just with my dad watching that," Jordan Evans said. "It was time to reflect on who I was as a person on and off the field. I realized I was the one hurting the team, and I feel like when you can actually look at yourself in the mirror and know that, it makes it really easy to make a change."

Evans took out his earrings and shaved off his tight braids, suggestions from dad. He focused more during practice.

He also noticed that teammates such as defensive linemen Charles Walker and Matt Dimon , linebacker Tay Evans and running back Daniel Brooks are no longer playing for the Sooners, with medical reasons affecting each case. He realized he was wasting his privilege.

"My mentality of the game definitely changed out there," he said. "Time's ticking, you know. You're not promised tomorrow in life, and you're also not promised another game. So you've got to play like it's your last. Just kind of seeing some of the stuff that's happened to some of my teammates, seeing that I'm blessed enough that I can keep going — might as well make it worthwhile."

The results have been stunning. Against Kansas, he had 10 tackles and returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown. Against Baylor, he had nine tackles, two interceptions and two sacks, and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Against West Virginia, he returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown. He's ready for one more big home game on Senior Day, when the seventh-ranked Sooners play Oklahoma State for the Big 12 title on Saturday.

"He's just preparing like a professional now," Oklahoma linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo said. "He's really out there making all the checks, putting everybody in the right spot. He's stepped up. You all have seen all the sacks and interceptions, but there's way more that goes into that."

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops made it clear that Jordan Evans has been a good player for a long time, and he figured he'd snap out of his struggles.

"In the end, he's definitely been highly productive in the last several weeks and whatever that game was, that's an aberration," Stoops said. "That hasn't been how he's played for a long time here. He's really been a spark for us here these last few weeks."

Evans suffered a leg strain on the interception return against West Virginia that put the Sooners up 41-7 early in the third quarter, and the Sooners gave up 21 points without him in the 56-28 victory.

"Really hurt us when he left the game," Stoops said. "With all the pieces we've had missing, he's really been kind of the glue. When he went down, it was tougher to manage we held it together in the fourth quarter toward the end."

Evans practiced in a limited capacity on Monday and Tuesday and is expected to play in the Bedlam game against the rival Cowboys.

"We want to make sure we're cautious with him," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "He's played more football than anybody on our team. He understands the game plan and what Oklahoma State is all about. We've just got to make sure we're cautious with him and get him on the field. He'll be ready to go."

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