LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) _ Both Coach Ryan Earnest and senior Xavier Evans will be back on the football field at Laurel High School, coronavirus pandemic permitting.
Just don’t expect to see them in the same spots as 2019.
Earnest, who had joined Todd Beland’s staff last season as offensive coordinator, took over the reins of his alma mater’s football program in December.
Evans, who spent the past three seasons primarily at quarterback, will move fulltime to running back/receiver, a role he took on down the stretch last season.
“We actually started that transition last year,” said Earnest, who won back-to-back Class 2A state titles at Collins High School and then spent three years at Madison-Ridgeland High School before returning home.
“We wanted to kind of develop more of a physical identity in our running game and we felt like Xavier gave us that.”
Evans, who was selected as the Golden Tornadoes’ “Player of the Pine Belt,” said he had packed 200 pounds onto a 5-foot-8 frame these days.
A quick look during summer workouts confirms one fact: the young man is thick, and looks like he’ll be as much fun on contact as tackling a tree trunk.
“He’s a load,” Earnest said. “Pound-for-pound, he’s the strongest football player on our team.
“He’s just a great kid and he’s very consistent. That’s the thing that really stands out about him.”
Evans has thrown for more than 3,100 yards in his career, and in 2019, he was a dual threat, throwing for more than 1,500 yards and rushing for more than 1,500 yards.
Evans said he was fine with the move.
“I just feel like put me in the best position to help the team win,” Evans said. “I can catch the ball out of the backfield. I can run. It’s just maximizing my potential.”
The move also allowed Laurel to add another offensive weapon to the backfield in senior Dexter Scott, who appeared in eight games last season and threw for 375 yards and five touchdowns.
“It’s a long season, but I feel like we’re going to be better,” Evans said. “The main goal is a state championship.”
Evans also will pull double duty at cornerback on defense.
“I just need to get my stamina right,” Evans said. “Learn to play if I’m tired, not tired.
“But I’ll be ready, Let’s go.”