The score stood at ND 38 South Carolina 38 late in the 4th quarter. After grinding out 64 yards on 11 plays, Notre Dame ‘s offense had a 3rd and 7 at the SC 16 yard line. The clock was stopped at 1:38 on a South Carolina timeout. One more play to continue the drive or else a Blake Grupe field goal attempt was likely that would give the Irish a tenuous lead with plenty of time remaining for SC QB Spencer Rattler to operate.
The Irish lined up and Evans is attached on the right side of the formation. Tyler Buchner takes the snap from under center. After a play action fake, he fade back right and looks to his right. South Carolina takes the bait. Evans leaks off the line across the formation and is ignored by the defense. He breaks wide open on the opposite side of the formation in the flat. Buchner turns and tosses the ball to Evans who scampers a short distance into the end-zone, and a celebration on the field, and in the stands erupts.
The touchdown provides the Irish with the winning margin in a crazy back and forth shootout.
“I kind of had to sell run and delay a little bit. And then I saw the weakside linebacker not even look at me, and wide open! Then I caught the ball and I zoned out, blacked out and its like ‘okay just get it in the end-zone’. It was great, very exhilarating.” Evens recounted after spring practice number three last week.
So how has that exhilaration carried over into the offseason? “Get up rep early in the morning, working out, watching film, everyday you’ve got to reset, grind time. That’s what the winter workouts are and the spring. Its all about grind.”
“With Coach Parker, learning his play style and what he wants to call. Get his new schemes out there. We’re going to master that now. So when summer camp comes around, we’ll all be sharp.” Evans added regarding his post Gator Bowl mindset.
The need to step up as a leader also became apparent to Evans when Michael Mayer opted out of the bowl game. “Going into the Gator Bowl and the offseason I knew I had to be leader in the room because I had the most on the field experience.”
Leadership is something that comes fairly naturally to the former high school quarterback, “Being vocal being loud. Get everybody energized. Its been fun, its been great. I’m not shying away, I’m attacking it.”
Just in the last 20 years, Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, Kyle Rudolph, Tyler Eifert, Ben Koyack, Durham Smythe, and Cole Kmet, have gone on to NFL success after their ND days. There are others. This is a legacy of which Evans is well aware, “We’re Tight End U….that’s always in the back of my head-that’s the standard that is here.”
Mitchell Evans, YOUR legacy awaits.