Not long after Ted Gilmore became the new tight ends coach at Michigan State, one of his first moves on the recruiting trail was to offer Wadsworth (Ohio) tight end Mitchell Evans.
Going into February, Evans had zero scholarship offers. Toledo was first, and before long, he was at 15 with Power Five schools like Iowa State, Purdue, Syracuse, and then the Spartans joining that list.
With his 6-foot-7, 240 pound dimensions, it might seem surprising Evans was under the radar, but an injury caused him to miss camps prior to his junior season, so it took until the end of that season and into winter evaluation before schools caught on.
“We thought based on Mitch’s pedigree — his sister was the SEC Freshman of the Year in volleyball — Wadsworth doesn’t have a lot of Division 1 athletes, we just don’t have those kids come through here, but we assumed he would be the first one based on his height and athleticism,” Wadsworth head coach Justin Todd said. “He has a lot of things you can’t teach, so obviously it was disheartening he wasn’t able to show everything off in summer. Once the season ended, we knew it would take one school to say yes, and then it would be a free for all.”
Evans was a 5-foot-9 eighth-grader who was a backup quarterback and part-time defensive end. He started to grow once he got into high school and thinking he would have a better opportunity to help the team and get recruited as a tight end, Todd moved him there. At the time, there was a quarterback who had led the team to a 12-1 record returning.
This fall, Evans will be their starting quarterback and has the arm talent to do an excellent job there. For now though, all the schools are enamored with him as a tight end.
“None have seen him yet, but I’ve been fortunate to coach good quarterbacks; I had a kid who was Mr. Football in 2017 and Mitch has great arm talent,” Todd said. “I’m excited to see what that arm talent produces with good weapons around him. Then obviously he is a good athlete, a dual-threat that can run and also throw the ball.”
When he can get back on the road and visit schools, Evans hopes to get to Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Ohio State, Indiana, Bowling Green and back to West Virginia.
He continues to get to know the Spartan staff.
“I know some about their coaches,” he said. “The first thing is that they all are really friendly. I talk with them over the phone and they are really cool to talk with. I know that there are a bunch of new coaches right now, and they are just getting settled.”
Whoever lands Evans is getting, not only a big, athletic prospect, but one who checks many boxes intangibly as well.
“Everybody likes Mitch,” Todd said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s really intelligent. His football IQ is really, really high. He moved to tight end, but has been involved mentally in the quarterback stuff and had anything happened to our starter, he would have been thrown in, so he understands, not only from a tight end perspective but from quarterback too. Our teachers love him, teammates really like him and when the lights come on, he is ultra-competitive. He is a happy-go-lucky kid off the field and then loves to compete and loves sports. And he is very humble.”
247Sports ranks Evans as the No. 16 junior prospect in Ohio and No. 24 tight end nationally.
MSU continues Ohio offers
Michigan State offered Clayton (Ohio) Northmont safety Rod Moore on Wednesday. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Moore has been on a hot streak lately with offers from Michigan and Notre Dame as well.
The Spartans also offered Michael Gravely, a safety from Cleveland Glenville. Gravely has an offer from Colorado. MSU head coach Mel Tucker recruited Glenville when he was at Ohio State and has a good relationship with head coach Ted Ginn Sr.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.