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Mark Evans II Receives Willie Roaf Award

HBCU and UAPB player receives the 2021 Willie Roaf Award as Arkansas' top offensive lineman.
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Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Roaf is a legend in Arkansas, college football, and the National Football League. The intelligent, rugged, impenetrable, and yet graceful offensive lineman protected quarterbacks for thirteen seasons as a professional. The New Orleans Saints drafted the Little Rock, Arkansas native in the first round of the 1993 NFL Draft.  On Friday evening, Roaf returned to Little Rock's DoubleTree Hotel and presented the annual Willie Roaf Award to Mark Evans II of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Evans is an HBCU star offensive lineman whose star is on the rise. He plans to return to the Golden Lions for his final season. 

The Willie Roaf Award is presented annually to the top college and high school offensive lineman in Arkansas.   It's named for Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle and Pine Bluff native Willie Roaf.  E'Marion Harris, 6-7 and 350 pounds, of Little Rock's Joe T. Robinson Senators won the honor in the high school category.  Harris has committed to the University of Arkansas.

Mark Evans

Evans conveyed to me his thoughts on receiving the honor. "Winning this award is bigger than me. It symbolizes the up and coming [future] of HBCU football. Being able to win it over other notable competitors in the state of Arkansas goes to show that talent can be found in HBCU football. It's a blessing, honestly, to be in such great company with all the other past winners of this prestigious award is a great honor. Having my name in conversations with a Hall of Famer like Mr. Willie Roaf is surreal. He is an NFL legend, and I can't thank him enough for allowing me to win this award."

Mark Evans II, Willie Roaf Award winner; Credit: Little Rock Touchdown Club

Evans has one more year to refine and define his craft as one of college football's most dominating offensive linemen. This past summer, Denny's partnered with Evans for the "2021 Denny's All-Pancaker Team" NIL. The significance for Evans was that he was the only HBCU player selected. The rest were from Power 5 programs.

Roaf gave Evans the following advice. "He told me to stay in the weight room, stay lean, and keep working on my technique. He also mentioned that all you needed was a foot in the door and that if I got my shot to enjoy it cause it could possibly be the best time of my life," said Roaf.

Evans reminds me of Roaf in many ways. I watched Roaf for his entire career in New Orleans and Kansas City. Both can be mean and nasty while engaging a defender, dominant linemen, yet mild-mannered and wise. Also, they wear glasses - Roaf often would don his spectacles on the sidelines of NFL contests.   

Evans is 6-4 and weighs 295 pounds. Last season, he earned the HBCU All-American honors for a second-consecutive season at UAPB. He could project as a guard for the NFL but has the skills and quick feet to be a tackle. HBCU football fans should stay tuned to Evans' career. 

He has the traits to become an outstanding player following the footsteps of linemen like Willie Roaf and Arkansas-Pine Bluff alumnus Terron Armstead. Oddly enough, both played for the New Orleans Saints and were perennial Pro Bowlers. Could Mark Evans be the next great?

We shall see.

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