Bloomington – The Hoosiers might have lost a do-everything type of athlete in Kellen Lewis during the off-season, but they’re committed to utilizing those same type of skills from someone else this fall.
That person is junior Mitchell Evans.
The 6’2” junior won’t be settling in under center this fall after moving back to wide receiver in the spring, and he might not even start due to the presence of Terrance Turner, Tandon Doss and Damarlo Belcher. But there’s no doubt that he’ll be a big part of Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada’s gameplan on a weekly basis.
“Mitchell Evans is a heck of a football player,” IU Coach Bill Lynch said this week. “He makes more plays in so many different ways.”
What sort of ways can Evans make an impact? After seeing action as a safety as a freshman and both quarterback and wide receiver as a junior, Evans has settled in at wideout this fall, where he’s one of the team’s top four pass catchers along with Turner, Doss and Belcher. He’ll rotate in regularly when the Hoosiers aren’t in a four or five wide receiver set, and he’ll be on the field when the team spreads it out.
“It’s nice for once to be in one spot,” Evans said. “I’m confident I’ll stay here all year instead of going into camp not knowing where I’m going to end up.”
But catching passes is hardly the only contribution that Evans will make this fall. The Hoosiers dabbled with the Wildcat formation a year ago, and have been sprinkling it in this fall as well. That formation switch inevitably puts Evans behind center, where he’s a threat to either run with it or throw it, particularly in the red zone.
That makes Evans a threat to throw it, run with it, or catch it whenever he’s on the field, and all eyes figure to be on Evans whenever he breaks the huddle.
“How I’m used I think just comes down to game plans,” Evans said. “If they need me to go catch some balls or go back and run some players from (quarterback), then that’s what I have to do to get on the field.”
One thing that will be working in the Hoosiers’ favor is that even when Evans is on the field they should be able to maintain the element of surprise. While some players that run the Wildcat are doing that almost exclusively, Evans is just as likely to simply line-up as a conventional wide receiver and be on the receiving end of a throw from Ben Chappell.
That’s why Lynch isn’t overly concerned about his team tipping its hand when it wants to run something unconventional with Evans behind center.
“I think we’ll learn as we go, but we’ll play enough three wides that he’ll be in there enough (to not tip things off),” Lynch said. “I don’t see that being a problem, but we’ll find out…We’ll move him around enough that they’ll at least have to find him.”
Indiana, in turn, has seemingly finally found a way to best utilize Evans’ skills. In the past two seasons, pressing needs at safety and then quarterback necessitated a position switch at some point during the season, but all indications are that Indiana knows exactly how it wants use him.
“I’m just looking for an opportunity to prove myself,” Evans said.
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