A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last off-season, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell II and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is running back Darrynton Evans from Appalachian State. Evans was one of the most explosive and productive players in college football in 2019 and looks to carry that production to the NFL. We had a great talk about his insane college production, what the top trait is for running backs to possess, and what teams are getting if they draft this talented running back.
5’11” 201 pounds
All-Sun Belt First Team (2018,2019)
Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year (2019)
Top Scholar among Sun Belt football players by Street and Smith
4,642 All-purpose yards in just 39 career games
255 carries for 1,480 yards and 18 touchdowns. 21 catches for 198 yards and 5 touchdowns. 16 kick returns for 386 yards and 1 touchdown.
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts may not need a running back as of right now but they could be looking for one in the near future with Marlon Mack’s contract coming up soon. If they want to look for a potential replacement for Mack down the road, Evans could be a great fit. A player who does a little bit of everything along with having great explosiveness. Colts could draft this steal of a prospect on day three and have him develop as a special teamer until Mack potentially leaves in free agency. If Mack does stay and sign an extension, then Evans could be a very quality rotational back for years to come.
Late Day 2/Early Day 3
ZH: How did you end up at Appalachian State?
DE: So basically the coaching staff there, coach Satt, made it feel like family and also the position coach at App was actually at USF the year before and he actually offered me there too. He recruited my area when he was at USF so I kind of knew him through other relatives and stuff that recruited out of my area so once he went to App and I already had the offer, they kept communicating with me and it felt like the right fit.
ZH: I saw that App State played you a bit at WR before moving you back to running back once injuries piled up at that position. Why did they decide to move you around so much as a Freshman?
DE: Coming out of high school I basically played every position. I played running back, receiver, backup quarterback, safety, and corner so I really didn’t have an exact position they wanted me at. I came to App as an Athlete knowing that I was going to play wherever coming into college so I understood that coming in. My Freshman year we had Jalin Moore and the all time leading rusher in Marcus Cox so they were just finding a way to get me on the field. So playing receiver was my best bet at the time until injuries happened and I had to switch over to running back.
ZH: You exploded as a redshirt Sophomore after the injury to Jalin Moore. Since then, you have been the Sun Belt’s top running back. What do you think is the reason why you were able to find so much success these last two years?
DE: I would say just being prepared and just getting my confidence back. Playing my true Freshman year, you know you aren’t used to that speed and stuff so I was getting used to that speed and I felt like throughout the whole year I got better. Then the following year I had a full Spring and a full camp before my injury so I was just more comfortable with myself based on the speed of the game and everything and knowing that whenever my time comes, I’m gonna do what I have to do. So I felt like my confidence was back and the first time I touched the ball as a redshirt Sophomore it went for a touchdown. I just wanted to put everyone on notice that I’m still here and I’m going to be here the rest of the year.
ZH: There is one play I’d like to talk about because it was so fun to watch. Against Charlotte this year, you returned an onside kick for a score. Just go through that play for me because that was a very unique play overall.
DE: Well it was just onside hands team and we had to get the ball and the ball took a great bounce. When I jumped in the air for the ball, I couldn’t even control myself to just come down and get on the ground with the ball. So when I was mid-air and I caught it, I noticed everyone around me was passed me so I thought well I might as well just keep running. I was hoping to score because I don’t really get that many opportunities as a kick returner anymore because teams try not to kick it to me.
ZH: You were successful not only on the field but off it at App State, earning top scholar among Sun Belt players in 2019. How important was it for you to be successful on and off the field?
DE: Academics are definitely important. Even now I’m not graduated yet but I have just one class yet and I’m taking that class right now so I leave App State with my degree. I know a lot of players who leave early don’t end up getting that degree but football is gonna end eventually and you have to have something to lean on. My family did a great job growing up with me and the rest of my siblings showing how important school is. I came out of high school with a 4.2 gpa and at App I’m at a 3.4 accumulative so it has always been important and relates to the field too. It makes me more on the field and I’m a quick learner so I’m able to grasp onto not only what I have to do but what others have to as well.
ZH: Looking back on your four years at App State, what area do you feel like you’ve grown the most in?
DE: Since my Freshman year... I would have to say my confidence. Over the years, I have played faster each year. Back in my Freshman year, I was running but I was still questioning what I was doing. Then by my redshirt Sophomore year, I knew the whole playbook. Then this last year happened and I had to learn another whole playbook but I was just more comfortable with myself because I knew what I was doing. Really just taking time to learn more about football, breaking down film, and scouting other teams slowed the game down for me. Knowing what the receivers and the line are doing helps me play faster too because once I get through the hole, I can make a cut knowing that my receivers should have certain guys blocked down the field.
ZH: What trait do you believe is most important for a running back to possess?
DE: I would say the ability to quickly pick up a playbook and even the willingness to block. It’s not all about running the ball, you have to be able to be out there on passing downs and pick up blocks in the backfield and keep the quarterback safe at all times. When running the ball, you have to have patience and vision and know to just react rather than thinking too much.
ZH: You were very versatile in your time at App State, playing special teams, receiver, and running back. Do you think that experience and versatility helped prepare you for the NFL?
DE: Yeah I think that will help me because you know coming in my Freshman year, that was one thing that Coach Satt preaches to his teams. When you come in, everyone has their own personal goals and expectations but at the same time, you have to find your role and do the best in that role that you can. As long as you are doing that role the best you can, opportunity comes because you have been doing what you need to do building that foundation every day.
ZH: Which NFL players do you model your game after/compare yourself to?
DE: Some players I see similarities with today are Raheem Mostert from the 49ers. I actually saw him growing up a lot. We are actually close friends, he grew up playing with my older brother and stuff so he is like a brother to me. We have similar skillsets too where he plays special teams. He could be a gunner on punt teams, a kick returner, or even a corner on punt return so he has that aspect where he can help on special teams. Then being able to run and catch the ball and he has speed and everything you could want in a running back.
Other players could be like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey and guys like that that can be used out of the backfield, in between the tackles, and make plays. (I mention that I’ve heard comparisons to Aaron Jones) Yeah I like that too. Someone who I used to mold myself after growing up was actually Percy Harvin. He played mainly receiver but Urban Meyer at Florida used him everywhere. I saw that growing up and I loved the way he produced and the way he played and tried to mold myself after him.
ZH: This is a deep running back class overall. Some guys are players who have been stars for years and others are guys like you who broke out the past year or two. So in this class, what is my NFL team getting if they spend a draft pick on Darrynton Evans?
DE: You will be getting somebody who is ready and prepared. When people talk about this class being deep, you know most people talk about the main guys and I don’t hear my name too often. I’m used to that. Coming out of high school, I wasn’t a 5 star, or 4 star, or 3 star so I keep that chip on my shoulder at all times. I hear a lot of stereotypes about App State being a small school and stuff about who we played but at the same time, we always got a lot of respect from the teams we played against. I just feel like when teams scout me they’ll see what I can do outside of the stereotype of where I played or my size or whatever. They will be getting somebody who is prepared and also has a chip on their shoulder at all times.