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Evans will be there from the start for NebraskaEvans will be there from the start for Nebraska

By BLAIR KERKHOFF - Kansas City Star
Date: 09/03/99 21:00

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- While it was difficult to see through the swirl that surrounded the starting quarterback decision at Nebraska, coach Frank Solich also announced his starting I-back this week.

Nothing controversial about the choice of DeAngelo Evans over Dan Alexander for today's game at Iowa. But there's something historic about it.

Evans, one of the nation's most highly regarded running backs when he came out of Wichita in 1996, will start an opening game for the first time. He's a fourth-year junior.

"I'm real excited, really ready to go," Evans said.

He's never been able to say that the week of an opener. As a freshman out of Wichita Collegiate High, where he topped Barry Sanders' state record by rushing for 8,473 career yards, Evans had his best season. He played behind starter Ahman Green and was Nebraska's second-leading rusher. Evans capped the year with a 130-yard, three-touchdown effort against Texas in the Big 12 title game.

Turned out, Evans played with a muscle injury in his pelvis throughout the year, a problem that kept him sidelined throughout the 1997 season.

With the pelvis healed, Evans was set to start the 1998 season. But a week before the season opener, he strained his left knee and sat out the first three games. The return was spectacular: a 146-yard, three-touchdown effort in a crushing of Washington. But the next week, Evans injured his tailbone. He played one more week and sat out the rest of the year.

Now, he feels this is his team ... from the beginning.

To get the starting call, Evans had to get past Alexander, who, like Evans, sat out spring practice recovering from an injury. Alexander has run well in the fall, and Solich said he'll "play a great deal. He earned that right."

But Evans has earned it, too.

"It's been a tough few years, but I had to keep this all in perspective," Evans said. "I've worked hard to get back from the injuries. Now, I want to be there for this team for 13 games. That's my goal."

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