Helmet problems behind him, IU player James Evans getting used to American football – The Daily Hoosier
James Evans wasn’t ready to wear a helmet.
The Indiana newbie knew he had many adjustments to make when he moved from New Zealand to the United States and embarked on a football career in the Big Ten after spending most of his youth playing rugby. He had learned to poke at Prokick Australia, the same kick and poke program that spawned former Indiana player Haydon Whitehead, so he understood what the basic function of his job would be and showed his skills in it, but the rest of the game was still very strange.
One of the most common stories about the almost entirely media-banned spring training season was the time Evans hit the ball and then took off his helmet before returning to the sidelines. Teammates posted it all over Twitter, and coaches would mention it when asked where Evans was in the punt competition.
“That was a bit of a learning curve,” said Evans in his thick kiwi accent at a Zoom press conference with IU Beat reporters on Thursday. âAt first I didn’t know how difficult it was. It was about five pounds. It’s molded on my head. That was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t know you couldn’t take it off. I think I was only 2 meters from the sideline when I took it off. “
But 2 yards inside the sideline is still 2 yards inside the sideline and the coaches notified him of this. His punishment for doing this was walking down stadium stairs.
“I didn’t know how big our stadium was until then,” said Evans. âStairs in stadiums with 50,000 seats are not fun to walk up. Lesson learned. I will certainly not do that again. “
That being said, Evans said his first spring training session was mostly successful in getting him used to what was to come. Because of his leg, which his coaches report is extremely strong, he appears to be the favorite to replace Whitehead. He entered training without realizing what that meant, other than kicking the ball as far as possible. He now knows much better about the intricacies of the position and what is required of him.
“Punting is more than just a schematic of kicking the ball,” said Evans. âCoach (Kase) Teegardin taught me very well all spring and made this transition easier. … I follow my lines right behind the sign and stuff. The fact that he taught me only made this transition easier. “
Evans was a rugby player for most of his youth and has given him extensive experience kicking the ball. His desire to do so eventually subsided. Growing up in New Zealand, he had watched football on the weekends since he was around 13 and liked the idea of ââbig college football. He admits that by the time he arrived, he didn’t fully understand how big it is in the US.
“Unless you’re really here, you don’t understand the extent of things,” said Evans. âThe general public, how much they care about college athletics and how beautiful the facilities are, all of those things. Playing in the stadium for the first time in January was really surreal. Now it’s just a field, but the first two weeks you’re here you think, ‘Wow, that’s so cool. Everything is so developed, so first class. “
He’s also getting used to life in the US in general. The food wasn’t a big change – he’s a fan of Buffalouie – and he speaks the language, but there are some differences in slang.
“Sometimes there is a slight language barrier,” he said. “I’ll say words and people will say, ‘What are you saying?’ But more or less at this point, having been here for six months, I’m pretty much acclimatized. That’s home now. “
He also gets used to the helmet.