Evans earns his stripe
HUNTINGTON -- Last August, Demetrius Evans arrived to Marshall University football camp as one of the Thundering Herd's 34 true freshmen. He, just like the rest of the newbies, was outfitted with a set of kelly green Nike shorts, a mesh jersey and a helmet with a bright, glaring red stripe down the middle that definitely clashed with the rest of the get-up.
That highly noticeable decal stood for something. Under the Doc Holliday regime, nothing was given. Not playing time, not favors, not a normal looking piece of headgear.
You had to earn your green stripe.
And through camp and the season, one by one the rookies were trading one Christmas color for another. Tron Martinez went green. So did Eddie Sullivan. Brandon Sparrow, too.
But Evans, he stayed red. All through 2010. All through an injured spring 2011.
Sunday, that all changed.
During a team get-together which also included captain selections and a group watching of "We Are ... Marshall," Evans, a sophomore, was chosen to go green.
"It took him a year and a half," Holliday said. "He's had the longest stripe in history. It's been 30 years -- that's the longest stripe there ever was.
"He was happy when that came off."
Mostly because it solidified the progress he's made since his slippery handed, inconsistent freshman campaign.
"It was really just a transition from high school to college -- that speed," said Evans, a former star at Glades Central High in Belle Glade, Fla. "And honestly, from now to last year, my knowledge of the game is better.
"It's all about being in the right place at the right time. That's the biggest difference -- it's not a struggle now."
Evans, a 6-foot-2, 191-pounder, was thrown into the fire early last year, making one catch for 20 yards in the opener at Ohio State but then he went grab-less for the next three games.
He ended the season with six catches for 51 yards.
"It's funny, but when you have early success, it's a whole lot easier to build on than when you're not successful early," said Bill Legg, MU's co-offensive coordinator. "Then it becomes somewhat of a dogfight. It's a little bit drudgery. (Evans) went through being thrust into a role where we had to play him probably before he was completely ready. Even though Tron played as a result of injuries, he was at least later in the season when he was able to do so.
"And so when there are some things that happen early, young guys have the tendency to get down on themselves."
But Evans tried to keep his red stripped helmet up throughout his difficult acclimation process.
"I thought -- then -- I was ready," he said. "But just over time, I look back and say, 'I wasn't ready.'
"There really wasn't a time of frustration. I always tried to keep my confidence high."
While finding the way to the meeting room.
Because he had a freshman season that didn't live up to his standards, Evans along with Jermaine Kelson, his classmate and fellow receiver with room for improvement, hit the playbook with a purpose.
"We take the meeting room very serious," Evans said. "From the (receivers) coach last year (Zach Smith) to the coach now (Gerad Parker), they've been putting everything in our head. Me and Kelson, and I'm not saying nobody else did, we took a commitment to really learning.
"We have talent, but the difference from now and last year is the knowledge of the game. The whole game. Knowing defenses and knowing where you're supposed to be.
"So that's a big difference."
Along with that new shade streaking down the middle of his helmet.
"It was a relief," Evans said.
JOHNSON DISMISSED: Joe Johnson, a defensive back who arrived last summer with some hype, was dismissed from the team on Thursday for a violation of team rules.
Johnson, a 5-foot-11, 173-pounder, was a three-star recruit out of New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Martin joins MU broadcast
HUNTINGTON -- WCHS-TV and WVAH-TV sports director Mark Martin is joining Steve Cotton this season on Marshall University football radio broadcasts.
Martin moves from his previous role of sideline reporter to color analyst. Cotton returns for his 16th year as Thundering Herd play-by-play announcer.
Adam Cavalier is back for his second season producing and hosting the Tailgate Show, which begins gameday coverage two hours before kickoff.
Studio host Eric Matthews will provide scoreboard updates and other information during broadcasts.
Network coverage begins Sept. 1 with head coach Doc Holliday's call-in show from Gino's Pub beginning at 7:05 p.m.
-- The Herald-Dispatch
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