Saturday, September 3, 2016

Evans rises to the occasion in Michigan's 60-point win against Hawaii

                                            Photo Credit: U-M Photography

Once the final whistle blew in No. 7 Michigan's 63-3 route of Hawaii in Saturday's season opener at Michigan Stadium, all 110,222 fans knew the name of Chris Evans.

Coming into the Hawaii game, Evans looked to be on the outside looking in as Michigan's De'Veon Smith and Ty Isaac highlighted the running backs who were at the top of the depth chart.

Evans stole the show and then some with a game-high 112 yards, on eight carries and two touchdowns. The urgency kicked into high gear for the freshman knowing the uncertainty of playing time once the game started.

"I knew I was going to get a couple of touches, so I made sure I made the best of the opportunities," Evans said. "I made sure I did everything (Harbaugh) told me to do or else it might have been my last time getting significant carries."

The Indianapolis, IN native became the third freshman running back to rush for at least 100 yards in his collegiate debut for freshman at Michigan (Walter Cross 104; 1998) and (Chris Perry 103; 2000).

Despite the top-tier performance, Evans' chance to ask honorary captain Michael Jordan the first question in Friday's 45-minute meeting meant as much.

"I asked Michael about the flu game from the 1997 NBA Finals and he told me the love of the game is over all of the sickness and he did it for his teammates and that stuck with me," Evans said. "Anytime anything goes bad for me now, I think of what he said."

Quarterback Wilton Speight saw something special in the making for Evans after the first three days in fall camp.

"After three days, we knew about what Chris could bring to the table," Speight said. "The best thing about him is that he lets nothing get to him."

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh echoed similar sentiments and took things a step further.

"(Chris) is a special football player and you really didn't get a chance to see everything he can do (against Hawaii)," Harbaugh said. "He can catch the ball out of the backfield, he can line up as a receiver and can also block for us."

Chris Evans' highlights from the Hawaii game:

- In the early stages of the second quarter, Michigan's fourth drive saw the emergence of Evans with back to back runs of 21 and six, which helped set up a Speight touchdown pass to a wide-open Amara Darboh from five yards out to go ahead 21-0.

- Two drives later, Evans put an exclamation point on the first half with an 18-yard touchdown run as Michigan carried a commanding 35-point lead on Hawaii.

- The fun did not stop for Evans as he rushed for a 43-yard touchdown with no contact 76 seconds into the second half and looks forward to the next game against Central Florida, regardless of the amount of touches he gets.

"I will make sure that I do things to the best of my abilities going full speed and do everything that I was taught to do in practice," Evans said.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.