Octavius Evans was good enough as a true freshman to see time on the field in all 14 of Boise State’s football games last season.
Based on his diligence alone, a full-time starting role could be on the horizon for the sophomore receiver in 2018.
“He’s just everything a coach loves as a player,” Boise State receivers coach Eric Kiesau said. “The No. 1 thing that makes Octavius different than anybody else is his work ethic. He’s internally driven to do great things with his life.”
In his first season as a Bronco, the 6-foot-1, 199-pounder caught 15 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He gained confidence as the season progressed, with 11 of his receptions in the second half of the season. He scored his first career touchdown against Utah State on Oct. 28 and grabbed a career-high four receptions for 43 yards at Colorado State on Nov. 11.
“I was kind of quiet as a freshman trying to just pick up on everything,” Evans said. “... I’m playing a lot faster (this year), and when you play faster you’re more confident and you do a lot of things well. I feel more comfortable, and I feel like I’m getting stronger in the weight room.”
Just two practices into fall camp, Evans appears physically ready for a breakout season. During a one-on-one drill Saturday morning, Evans laid out for a catch at full speed and kept his hands on the ball despite contact.
“Honestly, that man only has one (speed) and that’s full go. I’ve never seen him take a play off or a break,” Boise State senior defensive tackle David Moa said. “... We’ll be on different sides of the football field and you’ll hear him groaning because of how hard he’s working. I’m like, ‘Dude, just relax a little bit.’”
But going anything less than 100 percent isn’t in Evans’ wheelhouse.
“That’s always who I’ve been,” he said. “I just work hard.”
After playing behind senior Cedrick Wilson last season, Evans’ belief in hard work was only solidified. And with Wilson now on to the NFL, the Broncos are looking for “that guy” who can match Wilson’s 83 receptions, 1,511 yards and seven touchdowns from 2017.
“You don’t really know who your guy is going to be yet. You have projections of who you think it might be and who it might appear to be, but we just don’t know because there are so many new faces,” Kiesau said. “It’s going to take a collective group to kind of go out there and produce as a unit and then see who develops to be that guy to step out.”
If effort were the measuring stick, Evans would be the leading candidate to succeed Wilson.
“He’s got great grades. He’s a great kid. His work ethic is impeccable,” Kiesau said. “He cares. When he makes a mistake, he’s almost in tears because he hates letting you down and he hates making mistakes.
“He’s extremely competitive. He’s a leader, and he’s starting to come out of his shell a little bit and talk. He’ll be someone I’m really excited for throughout the year.”