Nine years ago, Cory McLellan would embark on deep routes at Dirty Woman Park in Monument’s Old Town.
At the time, McLellan was a little kid playing flag football, and little kids playing flag football don’t generally bother with deep routes. Little quarterbacks, everyone knows, can’t throw a football very far.
McLellan’s team was different.
Its quarterback was Ty Evans.
“He always threw a spiral,” McLellan said, smiling as he thought back to those long-ago touchdowns. “He always had that arm. When you’re that young, you’re not supposed to be able to throw it that well.”
Today, the quarterback who dazzled parents at Dirty Woman Park is a free agent. Evans, a junior at Palmer Ridge, withdrew his verbal commitment to play for Arkansas after the Razorbacks fired coach Bret Bielema.
Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre should jump into the chase for Evans, who leads an unbeaten and favored Palmer Ridge team into Saturday’s 3A state final against Erie at Falcon Stadium.
Evans owns a strong, accurate arm. He has superior timing. He’s a diligent worker. He’s smart. And he’s not a quarterback who evaporates when departing the pocket. He’s a rugged runner who earned tough yards and crucial first downs in the state semis. He can deliver a savage tackle after one of his rare interceptions.
And, most important for Colorado, he’s highly interested in the Buffs.
“It’s my home-state school,” Evans said Wednesday. “I grew up from like 6 years old going to their camp every summer and playing at Folsom Field.”
Playing for the Buffs, he said, has “always been one of my goals.”
Evans said he’s interested in CSU, too. He also said he’s in no hurry to select his college.
Both CU and CSU extended offers to Evans last summer.
But his overwhelming focus of this week, he said, is beating Erie.
His numbers are staggering. In the past two seasons, Evans has collected 6,448 yards and 70 touchdowns with only 12 interceptions on 654 throws.
Yes, I realize he’s rung up those numbers against 3A competition in Colorado, which is not among the nation’s leaders in producing elite college football players. He might be the best high school passer in the state, but he’s not throwing against the state’s finest competition.
“I think college coaches realize that if you can play, you can play,” Evans said. “They don’t really care if you play 3A, 4A, 5A, 1A, 2A. They see the talent where it’s at, and they know that how many kids go to my school is out of my hands and what I do on the field speaks for itself.”
Little in life, and nothing in sport, is more difficult to predict than the future of a young quarterback. The position is so complicated and so demanding and, like any football position, so dangerous.
When Evans arrives at college, he will be surrounded by quarterbacks, who all will boast staggering statistics from high school. The competition will be fierce.
He has many believers in his corner. McLellan is one.
Evans and McLellan once connected for touchdowns at Dirty Woman Park. They connected for another 11 TDs this season.
“It’s awesome playing with such a top-level quarterback,” McLellan said. “It’s great to see how he’s grown. I’m blessed to have a quarterback like that.”
CU and CSU would be blessed, too.