BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — You can’t miss Stockdale's Evan Burkhart on the football field, whether it’s his speed, agility or his long, curly hair poking out of his helmet. He stands out.
In 2018, his junior season, Burkhart stood out at a new position as the receiver turned starting quarterback passed for nearly 1000 yards and ten touchdowns while rushing for 877 yards and ten more scores.
"That first game I probably ran a lot more. And then, once my coach said, 'Like, Hey, you're the quarterback this is your team, take it and just actually start throwing the ball' just doing it good or bad. From there the game was easy," Burkhart said.
That versatility caught the attention of many colleges, including Arizona State. But, in the summer of 2019, his football goals had to run a new route.
"Normal cut that I do every day and I planted it, and I heard the pop and went down from there so when you tear it you know, and I knew right then and there, my season was over," Burkhart said.
He tore his ACL at a football camp in Redlands, California in front of college coaches.
"They were right there to come for me actually when I went down they told me, 'This isn't gonna change, it's a dime in a dozen, this happens to a lot of athletes' so that was comforting knowing like I'll be alright," Burkhart said.
So instead of chasing central section titles one final time with the Stockdale Mustangs football team, he humbly stood on the sidelines this past season and began focusing on recovery with physical therapy and eventually workouts in his home garage, which would eventually turn into sessions with his at-home coach, his dad, Darren.
"When it comes to working out with my dad it's pretty good down to it, so that's been good and then I know it's gonna carry on and help me when I'm there," Burkhart said.
The speedster is now back to form and recently secured a chance to play football for the Arizona State Sun Devils as a receiver, announcing his commitment on social media.
"They are proactive and looking for a pro model and like a lot of competition and high expectations and that's what I want," Burkhart said. "I'll be able to play against former friends, like my friend Cameron [Williams] at Washington just like meeting up with these people down the road and playing so I'm ready for it. It's really cool."
It’s also cool for his family.
"All the hard work and the emotional upset and the emotional highs and lows are all on him. He went through it all himself to come out with a good attitude and he still has the opportunity to play for a place like Arizona State makes me really proud," Darren Burkhart said.
Missing out on both senior seasons of football and track, due to COVID-19 cutting the season short, Evan’s learned how to overcome adversity.
"It really just makes football team aspects, anything, whether that be in a classroom, on the field, whatever just real tight-knit with people that you're around and making the most of what you're doing," Burkhart said.
The future Sun Devil is now awaiting the call to head to Tempe and join the team for workouts and practices when everything is cleared. Until then, he'll continue his workouts at home here in Bakersfield. I'm sure dad and family won't mind the extra time.