Evans planning ca­reer as coach

Run­ning back strives to ex­cel on field, serve as a role model for chil­dren

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY AN­GELIQUE S. CHENGELIS The Detroit News

— Michi­gan run­ning back Chris Evans had to wake up at 6:30 a.m. on Tues­day and was set to wake the same time on Wed­nes­day to make up for miss­ing his train­ing-room check-in on Sun­days. But this isn’t a pun­ish­ment. Evans some­times misses check-in be­cause he’s busy coach­ing young kids in flag foot­ball and rec-league bas­ket­ball. He has an or­ga­ni­za­tion called C.E. Stars and coaches flag foot­ball teams of 11- to 12-yearolds and an­other of 13-year-olds and a bas­ket­ball team that has kids through fifth grade.

It is a special out­let for Evans, a sopho­more, who two weeks ago shared Big Ten Of­fen­sive Player of the Week hon­ors with team­mate and fel­low run­ning back Karan Hig­don af­ter their mam­moth per­for­mances against Min­nesota. Hig­don had 200 yards and Evans had 191 rush­ing yards.

The Wolver­ines are pre­par­ing for an im­por­tant game at No. 5 Wis­con­sin on Satur­day, and while Evans is fo­cused on that game plan, he’s also in tune with his coach­ing re­spon­si­bil­i­ties on Sun­days.

“I give them a role model and make sure I’m there for them,” Evans said Tues­day af­ter prac­tice. “They’ve got my num­ber, so they text me and call me. One kid said, ‘I told you Chris is my coach.’ He called me and said ‘Chris, aren’t you my coach?’ in front of all his friends at school and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m your coach, man.’ ”

Evans, from In­di­anapo­lis, has been coach­ing since he was in high school. He started coach­ing in Ann Ar­bor last year af­ter he reached out to a lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion about work­ing with flag foot­ball.

“We won the city cham­pi­onship for the flag, so that was a big thing for me and for the kids,” he said.

Evans joked last year af­ter get­ting a new pair of glasses that they re­sem­bled those worn by Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh. He said their coach­ing styles also are sim­i­lar.

“Yeah, a lit­tle bit,” he said. “I’m re­ally in­tense, but these kids aren’t on schol­ar­ship so I don’t ex­pect ev­ery­thing out of them. I just try to be pos­i­tive through­out the process.”

Last week, he watched kids on his team who had never be­fore played bas­ket­ball score their first bas­kets.

“Just to see their faces, and their par­ents were go­ing crazy, it was fun to watch,” Evans said.

Coach Evans would re­ally like some­day to go into coach­ing as his pro­fes­sion.

“I want to be a high school coach some­where and I want to turn the whole pro­gram around.” Evans said. “Like go to a lit- tle small school and turn the whole pro­gram around. That’s what I do on NCAA Foot­ball. I’ll go coach New Mex­ico State and then I’ll win the na­tional cham­pi­onship.” He likes the idea of build­ing a pro­gram. “Just shows the re­la­tion­ship you build with the kids and the com­mu­nity,” he said. “It re­ally comes down to coach­ing and de­vel­op­ing peo­ple. A lot of peo­ple just want to coach pow­er­houses be­cause they’re good. I like the fact of de­vel­op­ing peo­ple and see­ing im­prove­ment.”

Evans has been de­vel­op­ing this year and has moved be­yond early signs of a sopho­more slump. He is the Wolver­ines’ sec­ond-lead­ing rusher with 569 yards on 104 car­ries and has six touch­downs. He also has a re­ceiv­ing touch­down, the first throw by red­shirt fresh­man Bran­don Peters, which was fit­ting, since the two grew up in In­di­anapo­lis and played to­gether on youth teams.

He said he did not know a sopho­more slump was even a thing but found out early in the sea­son.

“I’m just like, ‘Man, I’m go­ing through it. I’ve got to make sure I hold up,’ ” Evans said. “All the run­ning backs and all my team­mates made sure I was good. When I fum­bled against Air Force, I was like, ‘Oh, man. This is crazy.’ And everybody was like, ‘You’re good, bro, you’re good.’ And I stepped it up, kept go­ing.”

Har­baugh said Evans has emerged a bet­ter run­ning back.

“There was times I was won­der­ing, ‘Is Chris go­ing to be in a sopho­more slump?’ And that didn’t take place,” Har­baugh said this week. “There was a ball­game or two at the be­gin­ning and then I think he hit a cou­ple games there where he was just re­ally get­ting un­lucky. The plays weren’t blocked as well and the as­sign­ments weren’t on point when he was in the ball­game.

“Then about games seven, eight, nine, it started to even out (be­tween Hig­don and Evans). He was get­ting the turn in there when it was blocked bet­ter. I think he is back to even bet­ter than he was as a fresh­man right now. He’s in a great place now. Been ex­tremely valu­able to our foot­ball team.

“Like the way he’s run­ning the foot­ball. Like the way he’s pro­tect­ing the ball, like the way he’s catch­ing it out of the back­field, and he’s block­ing bet­ter too. Right now, Chris has made a good, sig­nif­i­cant jump. Came out of that fresh­man year as our top back, and I think he’s back to that place and then some now.”

David Gu­ral­nick/Detroit News

Run­ning back Chris Evans is the Wolver­ines’ sec­ond-lead­ing rusher with 569 yards on 104 car­ries and has six touch­downs. He also has a re­ceiv­ing touch­down.

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