It comes as no surprise, but Texas A&M sophomore receiver Mike Evans made his plans officially known Thursday when the school announced that Evans will declare for the 2014 NFL draft and forgo his final two seasons of eligibility.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver was one of college football's best receivers this season and was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Evans caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He led the SEC in receiving yards, tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns, and was No. 1 in the country in receptions of 30 or more yards with 17.
Evans showcased his ability several times this season, particularly when the Aggies hosted Alabama and Auburn. Against the Crimson Tide, Evans caught seven passes for 279 yards and a 95-yard touchdown. Against the Tigers, he hauled in 11 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
Todd McShay of Scouts Inc. projects Evans as a first-round pick. If Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel follows Evans (the deadline to declare is Jan. 15), it means the Aggies will have to replace their two best offensive skill position players next season.
The journey Evans took to this point is an interesting one. He was a basketball star at Galveston (Texas) Ball High and played only one season of varsity high school football. After signing with Texas A&M, he redshirted his first year but broke out as a redshirt freshman with 82 catches for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns.
The Aggies will head into the fall minus three of their top four pass-catchers. Derel Walker (51 catches, 818 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Travis Labhart (51 catches, 626 yards, 8 touchdowns) were both seniors. Junior receiver Malcome Kennedy (60 catches, 658 yards, 7 touchdowns) looks to be the returning statistical leader in the group.
That means a lot of youth will be served at the position come next season. Freshman LaQuvionte Gonzalez, who saw playing time in the second half of the season and the bowl game, projects to have a role, as will freshman Ricky Seals-Jones, who caught a touchdown in the season opener but missed most of the season with a knee injury and is seeking a medical redshirt.
And there might be an even younger receiver who could make an impact. The Aggies got good news on the recruiting front Thursday when five-star athlete Speedy Noil announced at the Under Armour All-America Game that he has committed to Texas A&M. Noil, the nation's No. 1 athlete and the SPARQ national champion at The Opening this past summer, projects as a receiver in the wide-open Aggies offense. The talent pipeline at receiver appears to be flowing nicely.
As for Evans, he leaves College Station having rewritten some A&M receiving records and making a significant impact in a short amount of time.