The spotlight shone mainly on four UCF Football players during the program's pro day Thursday. But outside of Shaquem Griffin, Mike Hughes, Tre'Quan Smith and Jordan Akins, nine other Knights from last year's team vied for some NFL attention of their own. One of those men was offensive tackle Aaron Evans.
Evans was a stalwart force for four seasons, playing in 48 of a possible 51 games and starting a large percentage of those games chiefly at left tackle. But Evans wasn't around for the Peach Bowl victory as a back issue he fought through for an extended period finally got the best of him, and surgery became necessary.
On Thursday, Evans came to Nicholson Fieldhouse feeling 100 percent and looking noticeably more muscular. Evans said he has been working out so much after being cleared following surgery, his trainers would have to tell him to stop or else he would just keep going. One downside to all of that gym time: Evans no longer fits in his suit jacket.
"That's a good thing. And a bad thing because suits are expensive," Evans said.
The 6-foot-6 big man was content with his overall showing in front of representatives from 31 NFL teams (The San Francisco 49ers were the only no-show). Granted, he said he would have liked put up a bigger number on the bench press and run faster in the 40-yard dash, but "I think I proved my back is healthy and that I'm able to bend, I'm able to move," he added. "I'm pretty pleased with that, and I think the scouts are pleased with I how performed.
"I really had a lot to prove and I knew I had a lot to prove, so ... the dice have been cast."
Foot speed, pulling technique and body control remain some of the attributes that scouts want to see Evans fine-tune. He'll continue to do so as he continues on this journey which will include visits with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers this upcoming week and end, Evans hopes, with an NFL career. It's a goal he has held since the age of 7.
"Keep praying for me, keep rooting for me, keep sending positive vibes and all that stuff because I've worked pretty hard to get to this point," Evans said.
If the NFL just isn't in the cards, Evans already has a clear backup plan he would like to pursue, thanks to his time spent with former UCF head coach Scott Frost and his staff.
"They really taught me the value of being a coach," Evans said. "Not just a football coach, but a life coach. They really developed us as men, and if I could ever come back and give back in that way to young men, develop them to be stronger men because we need that in today's culture, that would be something I would want to happen from this."
At some point down the road, Evans wants to give back, financially or otherwise, to the university that helped him develop and grow as a person. But that will have to wait for now. He, like many of his former teammates, are busy chasing a dream.