Big hitters like new Tampa Bay Bucs safety Justin Evans don’t shy away from contact, no matter the opponent.
Not having to deal with a 6-foot-6, 250-pound load like tight end O.J. Howard during games anymore isn’t such a bad thing, though.
“He’s definitely a very talented guy,” Evans said while speaking with the Tampa Bay media after the Buccaneers made him their second-round pick at No. 50 overall. As a Texas A&M student-athlete the past two season, Evans took on Howard’s Alabama Crimson Tide twice. “When we played them I was matched up with him a few times. So we’ll be on the same team this year but we’ll still be going against each other competing in practice. I definitely believe he’s a great athlete.”
Alabama won the past two meetings with Texas A&M, but Evans and Howard had decent showings in both games.
Evans made four solo tackles and intercepted freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts once last year and racked up 10 total tackles and one for a loss in 2015.
Howard caught eight passes for 69 yards and a touchdown last year and three for 35 yards in 2015.
Evans only played in two of the games because he spent his first two collegiate years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. “Coming out of high school I had no offers so I went JUCO,” Evans said. “Obviously, it was a different route than a lot of kids take, but I believed in it and I just trusted in myself, trusted in God.”
While racking up 165 tackles, six behind the line of scrimmage, and five interceptions in College Station, Evans earned his reputation as a defensive back that can rattle ball carriers’ teeth. Playing that aggressively can lead to missed tackles, however, and that’s something the 21-year-old continues to focus on as he begins his NFL career in Tampa Bay.
“I had a lot of missed tackles so that’ll be my main focus, being a better pursuit tackler,” Evans said. “I know if I do that then my game can go even higher, so that will definitely be a [focal point].”