From walk-on to scholarship. From Miami to Kansas. From benchwarmer to starter. K-State Wildcats defensive back Randall Evans, a redshirt junior, has made plenty of transitions since arriving in Manhattan in 2010.
After walking on to Bill Sndyer’s team and redshirting his freshman year, Evans has since become one of the starting defensive backs for the K-State secondary.
“I was blessed to get the opportunity,” Evans said. “And I know with my capabilities I can play Div. I football. Coming up here to Kansas, from Miami it’s pretty long, but I came up here with one thing on my mind and that’s play football with everything I can do, especially with everybody doubting me.”
Evans went to Miami Palmetto High School in a suburb just outside of Miami. In his senior season, where he had five interceptions and 50 tackles, he participated in the inaugural Miami-Dade/Broward Public vs. Private All-Star Game.
Transitioning from Miami and that fast-paced east coast lifestyle to Kansas and the midwest can be challenging for anyone. But Evans says he’s handled the process well.
“I was able to adapt pretty good,” Evans said. “Being in Miami your whole life, sometimes you get tired like, ‘I want to go see something different.’
Being here, it’s a little bit slower and what I like about here is that you can be more comfortable here, I can leave my house with my door open, with my door unlocked. But in Miami, it’s pretty fast, it’s really nitty gritty and you can’t do the things you do up here. I was able to adapt pretty well to it. I’m just coming up here to be focused.”
Despite having success in Miami, he was virtually unknown when he came to K-State. He roomed with Jaccare Givens, a former teammate who is also from Miami but has since transferred to KU, in Haymaker Hall his freshman year. He also redshirted his first season with K-State, the year the Wildcats made the Pinstripe Bowl.
“Randall came out of nowhere,” K-State senior linebacker Blake Slaughter said. “He was a walk on but the guy just had talent, and he’s able to focus and get stuff right.”
After his redshirt season in 2011, Evans registered 11 tackles. His breakout performance that season, when K-State started 7-0 and went to the Cotton Bowl, came against the Wildcats’ archrival, KU.
Evans had five tackles that game en route to a 59-21 win for the Wildcats.
“It was that adrenaline rushing in that football game,” Evans said. “Being young, I just wanted to get out there and get my feet wet. Once I got my feet wet, I wanted to make the most of it.”
Evans’ sophomore year is when he really broke out of his shell. In the Wildcats Big 12 title campaign, the defensive back made seven starts and played in all 13 games. He finished third on the team that season with 76 tackles, trailing only Arthur Brown and Jarard Milo.
His sophomore season is also when Snyder chose to award Evans a scholarship. However, Evans says his time as a walk-on player made him hungrier.
“It was very good, me being a walk-on, it made me better, made me tougher, let me know that everything doesn’t come easy,” Evans said.
Now in 2013, Evans is continuing to make an impact as the team’s main defensive back in the nickel package. He is fifth on the team in tackles with 27 and first in passes defended with six.
“He does a great job for us,” senior safety Ty Zimmerman said. “He’s very consistent, and he’s a guy that when he makes mistakes, he’s going to go out there and correct them.”
Evans slipped up against Baylor this season, allowing two huge touchdown passes as well as committing a personal foul that dampened the Wildcats’ chances in that game.
But it’s that fire that was lit when Evans was a walk-on that keeps him motivated. That’s what drives him to improve and recover from a bad game against the Bears and to reestablish himself as an elite defensive back.
“I still gotta act like I want it, I can’t get too comfortable out there, and that’s what I feel like I was kind of doing,” Evans said. “I gotta go back to the old Randall, the walk-on Randall that really wanted it, that really wanted to start.”
Evans and the rest of the K-State football team are prepping for their game against the Iowa State Cyclones. It was against Iowa State last year that Evans recorded a career-high nine tackles.
As for when Evans’ career at K-State is over, he hopes to either make it in the NFL or become a police officer.
“My goals beyond K-State, if I can get a chance at the NFL that’d be great,” Evans said. “I’m a criminology major so I might get in the police department. I’m graduating early, so everything is going pretty well. I’m just going to leave it in God’s hands.”