February 7, 2011

For OL, David Evans it was always Army

"With great power comes great responsibility.''
Uncle Ben, as told to Peter Parker
in the movie, "Spider-Man''

David Evans does not suggest he has great power. What he does have is a desire to help people. "I have the ability. I have these gifts,'' he says. "I think what I'm meant to do is serve other people, and the best way to do that is to be in the military. People look to you in times of crisis, and you have to be ready and calm and be able to perform.''

Evans will bring a special quality to West Point this June as he reports directly to the academy as an academic qualifier. The fact that he is a 6-foot-4, 265-pound offensive lineman is a plus.

He signed on the dotted line last week at his high school, Sauquoit Valley, which is located close to Utica, N.Y.

Responsibility was born of being the older brother of three siblings, as well as years being a Cub Scout. "I did all the service projects Scouts do, going to rescue missions, serving meals and stuff. I was happiest when I was doing something like that,'' he says, "helping people who either couldn't help themselves or those who needed help at that time.

"At a young age I had to keep an eye on my brothers and help around the house and take on responsibilities. I guess I never lost that going forward, that I need to help other people.''

His maturity extends into the future as it relates to what he wants to do with his life.

Evans' primary ambition is to study kinesiology and become a doctor. "That's where I can help the most people,'' he says.

The backup plan is to work in Military Intelligence. "I always thought that was a place where you can help a lot of people and keep them safe,'' he said.

A third possibility, which he says with a light touch, is that he could combine being a doctor with flying a helicopter. "I haven't lost wanting to be a pilot,'' he said.

The flying element stems from a family friend who flew a Navy jet. As a kid his dad took him to a Syracuse airport, where little David met the pilot and then watched him zoom off into the wild blue yonder.

"That was the coolest thing,'' he says, "to go to college and be a pilot. When I first visited the Naval Academy I thought that was an awesome place. I guess when I was little I wanted to play soldier.''

And then he visited West Point while in high school, when his father suggested they take a bus tour of the campus.

"I knew this is where I wanted to go,'' he said. "Anyone who visits this campus and says, even for a second, that they don't want to go there, must be a liar.

"West Point is a castle on the Hudson,'' he said when asked to describe the grounds. "It's austere.''

It will be home the next four years, which, to some people he's spoken with back home, seems a curious choice given he had opportunities to play football at Ivy League and Big East Conference schools.

"It's about the people, the type of people,'' he says regarding the Academy. "Everyone is respectful, everyone is driven, everyone is looking toward the future with the same goals, with a sense of purpose. So I really want to be surrounded by people like that.

"I always wanted to serve in the military, and my heart was set on Army from the beginning. I've wanted this since I was 8, and knowing I could also play football was an added benefit.''

He played varsity all four years in high school, a lineman on both sides of the ball. His claim to fame, he cracked, was catching one pass as a tight end, for 10 yards and a first down. "Once they decided I was the biggest kid in school, I was not allowed to play tight end anymore. The one thing I always wanted to do,'' he said, "was to score a touchdown. This season I begged the coach to put me in at fullback, just once, but he didn't.

"I almost scored, though. On an extra point I intercepted a pass and started running. I got to about the 40 when I finally heard the referee's whistle. He told me you could not return an interception on an extra point in high school. I was too excited to hear him, the Adrenalin was going. I would have gotten to the end zone no matter how tired I was. That would have been pretty awesome,''

Athletic for his size, Evans' strength is run-blocking, and he can pull through a whole and put his body on a linebacker or safety. He has worked especially hard on his pass blocking over the past year. "I think I'll bring that element to West Point,'' he says.

He will be part of an incoming class with a lot promise, and feels that joining up with the current varsity will lead to, "great things.

"I told some friends down at a local recruiting station that I'd win them a national championship,'' Evans joked. "I don't know if I can promise that, but there will definitely be a return to bowl games, a return to football greatness the way it was in the 1940s and 50s, and will definitely be a lot stronger than more recent Army teams.

"Coach Ellerson has people believing now. He has a lot of people behind him, a lot of support, and I think people coming are going to be excited about what this team can do.''

People should also be excited about what David Evans can do, which, it seems, is anything he puts his mind to.

While the future is limitless, it is also of course unknown. And for a West Point man these days, it is also potentially dangerous.

"I was raised that you can not live in fear of what might happen. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but I'm not going to not walk down the street. I've always dreamed of going to West Point, Evans said, "so I can't let fear keep me from my dream.

"Obviously we're in a war, and there is a very real possibility I could be deployed. It's cheesy to say, but it's the price we pay for being free. Freedom doesn't come free and all that,'' he noted. "But it's all really true.''

And brings with it great responsibility.

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