While most Badger fans have Oct. 5 circled in red on their calendars, Lee Evans opted to take a different approach to remembering the day he is supposed to return to the football field.
“I have a countdown on my phone,” Evans said, “so every day I look and it’s a constant reminder that as the days get smaller, I have a much more sense of urgency.” After the star wide receiver tore his ACL in last year’s spring game, he decided rather than red-shirting a year, he would forego the non-conference portion of the season and make his return for the conference opener against Penn State. While he is still in the process of rehabilitation, the condition of his knee is in the mid- to upper-80th percentile of ultimate health, but it varies day to day. With practice and the season well underway, Evans has consistently been running routes while experiencing limited contact. While he is involved in many of the competitive style drills such as going up against the defense, catching the ball in traffic and running around people, he hasn’t yet been in an all-out scrimmage situation. “I’m starting to get more into the feel of a game and what really happens in a game-time situation,” Evans said. “I can run a full-out sprint and have been running for awhile, but it’s just how fast it will be is more of the question. I can’t really answer, though, how fast my 40 [-yard dash] is because it fluctuates so much day to day.” While the ever-present rehabilitation, which includes water exercises and lifting weights, continues to move swiftly, the season opener against Fresno State really hit the tri-captain hard. “[Not playing] was terrible,” said Evans. “It was hard enough to miss practice and even more so a game — especially against a team that beat you last year. It was a great environment, and I sure didn’t want to experience it from the sidelines.” Evans, who is not second-guessing his decision to play another year rather than go pro, has not ruled out the possibility of seeing play time before the Big Ten season to help prepare for conference action. “When I come back for the Big Ten season I’m going to play as much as I can,” said a determined Evans. “If I can go a whole game, I will — if not, then we will play it by ear. But if I can get in earlier though, I will.”