Len Pasquarelli has a reality check for everyone who says blue chip college athletes should stay in school:
Leaning against a wall in a back corridor of the Indiana Convention Center on Friday morning, Lee Evans paused during an individual interview to follow with his eyes the advance of University of Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, as one of the 2004 draft’s premier players navigated his way through a crowd.
“What a great, great player, and a great guy,” said Evans, shaking his head as Fitzgerald passed by. “He really deserves everything that is coming to him.”
There wasn’t so much as a hint of jealousy from the Wisconsin wide receiver as he went on to speak about the burgeoning group of standout pass-catchers here for the combine, with the wide receiver contingent possibly the draft’s deepest position. Then again, Evans could have been forgiven a moment of pettiness, given that, just a couple years ago, he was the Larry Fitzgerald of the college game.
Coming off a sterling 2001 campaign for the Badgers, the explosive Evans flirted with the notion of leaving school and petitioning for the 2002 draft as an underclassman. He opted, after months of examining his various alternatives, to remain in college. And five games into Wisconsin’s 2002 spring game, to the horror of everyone who witnessed the freak incident, Evans blew out the anterior cruciate ligament of his left knee.
Nearly two full years later, following a pair of reconstructive surgical procedures, it’s as if Evans is now an afterthought. Not until some teams mention the names of Fitzgerald, Roy Williams of Texas, LSU’s Michael Clayton, Washington’s Reggie Williams and Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State, do they bring up Evans as a prospect. There are a group of other teams, however, that feel the Wisconsin star will be a steal.
It sounds like Evans is going to be okay. Indeed, one suspects someone with his attitude would be successful even if the injury cost him a pro career entirely. But all of the hand wringing over underclassmen leaving school for the lure of the big money seems to forget how fragile the human body is.