Even in a magical season devoid of defeat, UCF senior LT Aaron Evans still experienced agony.
Which might be too mild a word. At times, the Armwood High alumnus said, the back pain he experienced this past fall reached "excruciating" levels.
"Some games I was just more stiff than others, because I would load up on painkillers before games, honestly," he said. "Before (2017 preseason) camp started I re-tweaked it, so I had a hard time walking."
Thanks to recent surgery to repair two herniated discs, Evans says the pain now is gone, and he's ready to show NFL scouts how he can perform when 100 percent. He won't do it at Saturday's East-West Shrine Game, to which he was selected, but said Monday he has been cleared to resume working out late next week.
"Got to beef back up a little bit, just get in shape," said Evans, who started UCF's first 12 games at left tackle last season, but missed the Peach Bowl due to the surgery. "None of these scouts have seen me 100 percent. … It's exciting."
When fully healthy, Evans — an observer Monday at the East squad workout — could elicit some serious consideration from NFL types.
He started 36 games at left tackle in his final three seasons, earning first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors in 2017 and Academic All-America recognition as a junior. Unbeknownst to many, however, he was taking epidural injections before games to combat the pain.
"I played the last two seasons (with the herniated discs)," he said. "No one knew about it."
Now healthy, his durability, intelligence and physical upside could attract NFL suitors. Though he's not participating in the Shrine game, Evans formally measured 6-foot-4 3/8, and weighed in at 310 pounds. He'll be able to throw that weight around — pain-free — when UCF holds its pro day (at a date yet to be determined).
"I feel amazing," Evans said. "Best I've felt in two years."