Everyone knows Ty Detmer - BYU's most famous quarterback, a junior whose visibility increases at the same rate as his chances for the Heisman Trophy.
But nobody knows his understudy - the 6-foot 185-pound junior from California who relentlessly works to keep himself in shape in case Detmer falters.An underdog. I like underdogs. That's why I decided to talk to feisty Joe Evans.
Growing up with peewee football in California, he learned the rudiments of the game, then moved to Utah and attended Orem High School. After graduation, he went to Snow College, where he had the most sensational football experiences of his young life, completing six touchdown passes for 400 yards in two separate games - against Phoenix and Mesa community colleges.
He led Snow to a No. 6 ranking in the nation his second year and was judged the best junior college passer in the nation.
When Oregon State and Idaho State recruited him out of Snow, he chose Pocatello. After only one semester, he went on an LDS mission to Los Angeles, even though as a convert he grew up without an "ingrained" desire to go. He read the "Book of Mormon" for the first time while at Idaho State - then became determined to serve a mission - "football or not."
During the final months of his mission, the University of Utah and Weber State College approached him and tried to persuade him to leave his mission early to play football. He seriously considered the offers and even "prayed about them" - then decided to finish his mission.
It was a wrenching experience, but shortly after rejecting those offers, he received a scholarship offer from BYU, which he considers "a spiritual experience."
Arriving on campus in mid-June, he announced that he "chose BYU for other reasons than just football." Now as the designated No. 2 quarterback, he has a greater challenge: to be in constant readiness.
When I asked him about his ambitions, he quickly said, "I'd just like to get in the GAME!"
More thoughtfully he added, "It's exciting to wear a Cougar uniform, but at times it is a little frustrating to sit on the bench. Every person likes to play. But you've got to bide your time and take life as it comes."
Immediately, it reminded me of the plight of every vice president of the United States - who waits around just in case.
"I really do feel that way," he said laughingly, "but don't compare me with the present vice president!"
Just what kind of preparation is required to be a backup quarterback?
"It is really more mental than physical. You have to be prepared for all kinds of things - to decide who the receiver is - to be able to take a shot from someone bigger than you are - someone 6 foot 6. It's like a chess game - a battle between you and the other coaches. It is a mental thing, and that's what I like most about it."
He says discipline is the key. "Yet you can prepare for it and prepare for it - but getting in the game is a different situation. You go over film with the coaches and prepare mentally and you feel pretty ready - but it's tough to be ready all the time. It's like preparing for an earthquake. You're not sure it is really going to happen, but you can't let down."
Evans considers actual game experience invaluable. "When you get in you relax and start to calm down."
In the meantime, he and Detmer get along fine. "We don't hang out together, but he's a really good guy and has his head on right."
As a junior like Detmer, Evans has a smaller chance of getting one year as the No. 1 quarterback than sophomore Brent Smith, who is currently No. 3. Smith says he sees "the light at the end of the tunnel."
So whether he gets into the game or not, quarterback Joe Evans is an optimistic business major who needs no sympathy.
Pro ball? Maybe. "If someone waves a bunch of money in my face, I'd take it. It's kind of a childhood dream - but I'm not counting on it!"