The other finalists for the sixth annual Hendricks Award are: Eric Bakhtiari (San Diego), Vernon Gholston (Ohio State), Chris Long (Virginia), Greg Middleton (Indiana), Nick Reed (Oregon), Jonal Saint-Dic (Michigan State) and George Selvie (South Florida).
Evans has had a superlative campaign in his first year as a starter. A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media and coaches, he leads the Nittany Lions with 21.5 tackles for losses and 12.5 sacks (minus-94). He has 48 tackles (27 solo) to rank fifth on the team, has forced three fumbles, recovered a fumble and has three pass break-ups.
One of top defensive linemen in the nation, Evans is second in the Big Ten in TFL (No. 6 in the nation), third in sacks (No. 7 nationally) and tied for fifth in the conference in forced fumbles.
A U.S. Army All-American at Christ The King High School, Evans needs 1.5 TFL in Penn State's bowl game to move into a tie for second in season minus yardage plays at 23. He needs one sack to move into a tie for third with Courtney Brown on the school season list at 13.5.
Evans was selected Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after a superlative effort in the Nittany Lions' win at Indiana. He recorded six tackles (five solo), setting career-highs with 4.5 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks for minus-36, two forced fumbles, a 55-yard fumble return and a pass break-up against the Hoosiers.
Late in the third quarter, Evans made the play of the game. Indiana had a first down at the PSU 19, trailing 23-17, when Evans sacked Kellen Lewis, forcing a fumble at the PSU 32, which he picked up and returned 55 yards to the IU 13, losing one of his shoes along the way. Kevin Kelly made a 21-yard field goal to extend the lead to 26-17.
Evans continued his torrid play on IU's next possession. He grabbed Lewis' jersey and swung him around, forcing a fumble that DT Phil Taylor recovered at the IU 7. Kelly connected on a 20-yard attempt to push the lead to 29-17 with 12:30 to play.
Evans has played a significant role in the success of the Penn State defense, which is ranked in the Top 10 nationally in five categories. The Nittany are No. 2 nationally in sacks (45), No. 6 in rushing defense (87.9 ypg), No. 7 in scoring defense (17.6 ppg), No. 10 in total defense (306.5 ypg),) and No. 10 in tackles for losses (96)).
The Nittany Lions are No. 2 in the Big Ten in all the above categories other than sacks (first).
Coach Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions finished the regular season with an 8-4 record and will be making their 34th bowl appearance under the all-time leader in bowl visits and wins (22-10-1). Penn State will learn its bowl destination and opponent Sunday evening.