Former Havre Blue Pony C.J. Evans will make his first collegiate start of his football career on Thursday night — and it will be a big one.
Evans, who transferred from Montana State University-Northern to Minot State University last spring, has been named the Beavers’ starting quarterback for their season-opening game at Bemidji State on Thursday night. Evans originally signed with the Lights out of high school and redshirted last fall while the No. 3 quarterback at Northern. But with a pair of close friends already on the Minot football team and the likes of starter Derek Lear and Travis Dean ahead of him on the MSU-N depth chart Evans took his talents to Minot, and after a solid spring, he came into this fall in a hotly-contested quarterback race with two other young Beaver quarterbacks.
But Evans, who was Havre High’s starting QB and an all-conference pick his senior year, has shined in fall camp, and late last week, MSU head coach Paul Rudolph named Evans the starter for the opener at Bemidji.
"I think he demonstrated that he did all the work (he needed to do), and knew his assignments. He then went out there and passed (the test)," Rudolph said.
“It's been like I said a competition all fall so it really was wide open until I feel like last night I played well (MSU's scrimmage) and so hopefully I got the job now, hopefully I can keep it,” Evans told a Minot TV station last week.
With the Beavers, Evans will be the starting QB for a program moving up to NCAA Division II. Minot has been an NAIA power over the last few decades, but the Beavers are now a DII playing in a tough Midwestern Conference. But Evans should be comfortable as the Beavers’ starter, especially playing alongside a pair of former Havre High buddies. The Beavers also have former Blue Pony Nate Christianson as a sophomore receiver working his way up the depth chart, while Evans’ cousin and another good friend, Mike Hickman also plays defensive back for MSU. The three were good friends in high school, and Hick man and Christianson were a huge reason why Evans decided to transfer to Minot.
And now, with the three of them together, Evans is thriving and he’ll get his first taste of live college football on Thursday night in Bemidji, Minn. The Beavers are playing a transitional schedule this season which still includes some former DAC rivals. MSU will also play Big Sky Conference power Montana State Sept. 17 in Bozeman.