College football teams place a wide assortment of running backs, tackles, linebackers, defensive backs and receivers on the field. Plenty of playing time beckons for a hungry, talented prospect.
College football teams place one quarterback on the field, and his backups spend Saturdays watching from the sideline. Some of those backups spend their entire careers watching.
This is the reality that awaits Ty Evans, the Palmer Ridge junior quarterback who announced Monday he plans to play for Mike MacIntyre and the Colorado Buffaloes.
Evans will arrive in Boulder in the fall of 2019 to compete with a collection of other high school quarterback stars. All will boast astronomical prep statistics. All will be hometown heroes. All will expect to win the starting job.
And only one will walk on the field for the opener as the happy starter.
Evans, a three-star recruit, has been sensational over the past two seasons, collecting 73 touchdowns, 6,804 yards and only 15 interceptions on 676 throws. In November, he led Palmer Ridge to its first state title.
Yes, he’s a transcendent star, but he also plays in a state not known for producing a wealth of elite recruits.
“Nationally, I think it puts an asterisk by my name in the first place because I’m from Colorado,” Evans told me in November.
But he was confident college coaches would not hold his state or the size of his school against him. All coaches care about, he told me, is if you can play.
At the 3A level in Colorado, Evans can certainly play. Palmer Ridge rolled to a 13-0 record last season with a stingy defense and a mighty offense. If Evans has as much time to throw in 2018 as he did in 2017, Palmer Ridge will again rule Colorado.
But a brutal, unforgiving college world awaits Evans. It’s a world that turns high school superstars into college bench sitters.
Let’s look at another 3A Colorado superstar quarterback and his sad college tale. It’s not a cautionary tale. It’s just a look at reality.
In 2010, Austin Hinder graduated from Steamboat Springs High as one of the nation’s top 50 recruits. He led Steamboat Springs to the state title game. He was a four-star recruit, the 6-foot-4, 185 grandson of Jim Hanifan, a former NFL coach. He had passed and rushed for 39 touchdowns as a senior.
No high school quarterback is a can’t-miss college prospect, but Hinder was close. He signed to play for the Cal Bears, and as a junior he engaged in a fierce battle for the starting job. He had waited his turn. He had every reason for optimism.
He lost the job to an upstart freshman named Jared Goff, later the first pick in the NFL Draft. In his five years at Cal, including a redshirt year, Hinder played in three games and completed two passes.
Can’t miss had missed. This observation is not a criticism of Hinder. It’s an observation of how vicious the competition can be for playing minutes at the top level of college football.
I’m confident Evans will work obsessively. He’s been throwing tight spirals since he was a 7-year-old who stunned touch football opponents at Monument’s Dirty Woman Park. He’s a diligent student of the game.
And, best of all, he understands the immensity of the challenge that awaits him in Boulder.