From Sanger to NFL prospect
For most high school kids aspiring to play college football, the first week of February is a very stressful time in their young lives. Most kids have five to 15 offers from major schools to choose from.
Fast-forward a few years, and those same kids are the ones who fill up the “green room” for the NFL draft, anxiously waiting to hear their name called and to walk across that stage to shake the commissioner’s hand.
That is not my story.
My name is Dane Evans, and I am from beautiful Sanger, Texas, and if you forgot my name, that’s OK — it’s been awhile. I played football for Sanger from 2010-12, and by the time my career ended, I had broken every school record and was fifth all-time in career passing for what used to be Class 3A programs (now Class 4A) in Texas.
As a senior, I was maybe 6 feet tall and weighed a whopping 185 pounds soaking wet, but I knew what I was capable of doing at the next level. After my junior year, I started to get a lot of interest from major schools: USC, LSU, California, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Hawaii, Utah and many more.
However, not one of those programs offered me an official scholarship to attend their school and play ball, saying that I was “1-2 inches too short.” Only one out of 114 Football Bowl Subdivision schools made me an offer — the University of Tulsa. I had never even heard of Tulsa until they offered me. So after some research and a summer visit, I knew it was my next home.
Now, I am projected to be a late seventh-round draft pick or to go undrafted, which isn’t that disheartening considering that there will be 33 undrafted free agents playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
The biggest knocks on me, according to scouts, are my height (6 feet 1/2 inch) and the fact that I went to a small school. But this is nothing new to me. I have been doubted and overlooked throughout my career. I have signed with high-profile agents Leigh Steinberg and Chris Cabott, and I am training six days a week at APEC in Fort Worth.
This weekend, I get to go to Houston for the Super Bowl. My agents are flying their entire 2017 draft class (myself and six other players, including former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes II) and their families to stay in Houston until Sunday.
We don’t get to go to the big game, but there still is a lot we get to do and see. Today we will hit “radio row” and do interviews with local media, NFL Network, ESPN, SiriusXM and other outlets. That will be fun and nice to get some exposure.
Tonight we will attend a private party, which should be pretty cool. There will be several NFL legends there. In past years, guys like John Elway, Troy Aikman, John Lynch and others who have been represented by Leigh have attended. This will be Leigh’s 30th annual Super Bowl party, and I know for sure that Steve Smith Sr., Earl Campbell and Warren Moon will all be there.
All I really know about it is that we have to dress in very nice attire and after the party there is a Texas barbecue. If you know me, you know that I love eating, so I should be right at home.
On Sunday morning, they are flying my family and me back home before the game, so I will actually be watching the Super Bowl from the couch of my hotel room in Fort Worth.
I can’t imagine being in Houston with the Super Bowl atmosphere. I’m pretty excited about it.