The scoreboard at Kyle Field may have read 49-42 in favor of Alabama, but Texas A&M discovered an asset in sophomore wide receiver not even the tough loss to the nation's top-ranked squad could damper.
Evans had a program-best 279 yards receiving on seven receptions for one touchdown against the Crimson Tide, ultimately allowing the Aggies a fighting chance against Alabama down the stretch. The massive performance comes a week after Evans' former career-best 155 yards against Sam Houston State, meaning he broke not only the school, but his personal best as well.
"I couldn't be prouder [of Evans]," sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel said. "In my eyes, Mike Evans is the best receiver in college football. I see him everyday. I see how he works against defenders, and it's just amazing. A big guy like him who gives his all every game. He played solid throughout the whole game."
Evans' 279 yards fell just 24 yards shy of the Southeastern Conference record for receiving yards in a game, which Arkansas' Cobi Hamilton set against Rutgers last season. Comparably, Alabama's star receiver Amari Cooper grabbed just two receptions for 34 yards and no scores against an A&M secondary that struggled throughout the matchup.
Additionally, Evans increased his career receptions to 102, surpassing the 100 plateau in only his 16th game, the fastest of any Aggies wideout.
The sophomore's back-to-back 100-yard performances mark the first of his career, and with Manziel continuing to develop his passing game, Evans should provide plenty more down the stretch of this season and beyond.
Last season, Evans earned the designation as Manziel's favorite target in an A&M receiving corps loaded with talent, catching 82 passes for 1,105 yards and five touchdowns. Through just three games this season, though, Evans already has three scoring receptions, including a 95-yard pass from Manziel that put A&M within seven late in the fourth quarter against the Crimson Tide.
According to A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, Evans' career performance not only helped the Aggies' passing game, but also led to a strong rushing attack as well.
"[Evans] makes plays," Sumlin said. "You look at some of the situations where basically he was doubled, and we were able to run the ball effectively because of that. We were able to run the ball effectively because of some of the things he created schematically."
During the postgame press conference, Evans showed disappointment at the loss, noting that his blocking down the field could have been better. As for his receiving ability, though, Evans attributed it to his strong connection with Manziel.
"I just tried to play as hard as I could and Johnny found me on a few plays," Evans said. "We were on scout team freshman year when we redshirted. We have a lot of fun together. He's one of my best friends."
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.