June 13, 2010

Evans delivers message of hard work

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Dallas Jackson is the Senior Analyst for RivalsHigh. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Hard work pays off.

Although simple, it's a concept that cannot be overstressed.

It was also part of the message delivered by Heath Evans at his foundation's fifth annual 7-on-7 event.

"Don't count your days, make your days count," Evans said in his address to a packed auditorium on the campus of his alma mater, West Palm Beach (Fla.) King's Academy.

Evans recounted training days when his dad, a long-time military man, would make him put in the extra effort.

"Whether you have 61 days until the season starts or 47 days or whatever the number is, you have the opportunity to make yourself better," he said.

Evans, who admitted much of his success has been because of hard work and not just being blessed with ability, added that the hard work a player puts in on the field needs to also be applied off of it.

"It's easy to get people to like you, maybe nothing is easier," Evans said. "But do people want to be like you?

"Do people respect you? Do they want to be your friend or do they want to take different parts of you and apply them in their lives?"

Vince Wilfork, a six-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowler seconded Evans' message.

"(So-called) 'me' guys don't make it in this game anymore," Wilfork said. "Coaches and players don't want it. They don't tolerate it anymore.

"If you are a guy who only thinks about why you didn't get enough catches or how many yards you got, it is time to change."

That time to change, according Evans, is now.

"You can be a better football player, a better man, a better person today," he said. "Respect yourself and respect others and good things will happen."

Jack is back

Even with four NFL players on hand at the event, when Jack Nicklaus arrived on the King's Academy campus, everyone took notice.

Nicklaus' grandson, Nick O'Leary plays for Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer and his famous golfing grandfather was there to see the event.

"It's a beautiful day and a great event," the golfing great said. "Hopefully Nick and his teammates do well."

Nicklaus, who posed for photos and signed autographs, was impressed with the talent on the field.

"There are a lot of good players here," he said. "Some very big boys."

Wilfork wins bragging rights

Kevin Faulk may be a former high school quarterback, but past experience was not enough to beat big Vince Wilfork.

After Faulk's first throw went 55 yards, it looked like he had stolen the show.

"Shoot, I may not have to throw again," Faulk taunted Wilfork and Evans.

While Evans was a non-factor in the competition - his two throws were both 10 yards shorter of the other competitors - Wilfork was not going to lose locker room bragging rights.

"I can't lose this," Wilfork said before his final throw.

He didn't.

Wilfork launched the ball nearly 57 yards, bettering Faulk by five feet.

On Faulk's last throw, he beat his first toss but it was not enough to dethrone Wilfork.

Evans laughed as the trio left the field and joked about his performance.

"Looks like I will have to train harder for this next year," he said.

National invite canceled

The only down point from the event was the announcement that the winner would not be representing Florida at the USA Today 7ON7 event.

Earlier in the week, it was announced that the newspaper would accept the winner of several prestigious 7-on-7s and play a national title.

That all changed on Friday.

"It is pretty unfortunate," Evans 7-on-7 media representative Y.A. Titlebaum said prior to the event. "I guess there were some compliance issues that forced them to back out."

Grid bits

  • Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington was unable to defend its title at the Evans event, but the Tornadoes made it to the quarterfinals before falling. The team played without its starting quarterback, wide receiver, and two defensive backs.

  • The host school, King's Academy, nearly knocked off West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer, losing a one point decision. King's Academy was without three starters and five total team members with a conflicting baseball game Saturday afternoon.

  • Kelvin Benjamin, the four-star receiver from Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Central will not be a part of the team's potential playoff run. The 6-foot-6 player will pass the state's 19 and 9 rule, which stipulates players can not play passed their ninth month after turning 19 years old. Benjamin turns 19 years nine months old after the sixth week of the season.

  • Opposing coaches at the event hinted that Florida State may be among the leaders for Nick O'Leary, saying that despite the fame of his grandfather and father, Nick does not seem interested in Ohio State or Georgia.

    MORE EVENT COVERAGE: Miramar takes home team title | Photo gallery: Talent on display


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