The style differences between former Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins star receiver Henry Ellard and Texas A&M sophomore Mike Evans couldn't be more pronounced. Ellard, now an assistant coach with the New Orleans Saints, stood 5-foot-11 and blew past defensive backs with speed in a class with the fastest NFL players of his generation. Evans, 6-5 and 225 pounds, doesn't need Ellard-like speed to corral deep passes as if he were pulling down NBA rebounds.
Yet, the two cross in the area of yards per catch.
Ellard holds the NCAA record for yards per catch in a season, 24.4, set while playing for Fresno State in 1982. Evans is averaging 22.9 yards per catch through eight games, and if he can stretch defenses just a bit further in the final month of the season, Ellard's mark could fall.
Don't count Ellard among retired athletes who like to see their records preserved. In fact, Ellard said he was unaware he even held the record until contacted by College Football 24/7.
"I had no idea," he said. "I guess I've had it for a long time. ... Records were made to be broken."
But he certainly had an idea of how the record came to be.
"We did a little bit of everything (at Fresno State)," said Ellard, who completed the '82 season with 62 catches for 1,510 yards. "It was a pro-style offense, and Jeff Tedford, who coached at Cal, was my quarterback. There were some good guys around me. (Receiver) Stephone Paige played a lot of years in the NFL. One year we were running deep dig routes, and the next year, we decided, 'Let's put a little pump (fake) on them,' and we started throwing deeper."
Without knowing how much more yardage Evans will compile over the Aggies' last four games (five with a bowl game), it's difficult to assess how much of a threat he poses to the mark. If Evans were to catch three passes for 100 yards Saturday against visiting UTEP, for instance, his average would jump from 22.9 to 23.5. With eight catches for 100 yards, it would fall to 21.4.
Ellard's record was established only for players with 50 catches or more. Evans needs only four more catches to reach 50 himself. Ellard said he's been impressed with what little he's seen of Evans, despite their differing methods.
"I know he's the quarterback's go-to guy, that's for sure. When (Johnny Manziel) is in a bind, he's going to find No. 13. ... It looks like he really knows how to pull down the ball in the air," Ellard said.
Evans is a third-year sophomore, making him eligible to declare early for the NFL draft after the season. He's totaled 1,101 yards on 48 receptions through eight games. He's also got 11 touchdowns. And as long as Manziel continues extending pass plays with his ridiculous scrambling skills and pocket awareness, the next one is always a good bet to be a deep one.