Evan Melhorn, like any other high school athlete, had dreams of playing collegiate ball, and after a successful football career at William Blount, he had the opportunity to fulfill that goal.
The only thing that stood in the way was his academic record.
Maryville College, however, was willing to give Melhorn the time to sort it out, and after a summer of laboring in the classroom, he reached the point where he could sign his name on the dotted line Monday and join the Scots for the upcoming 2019 season.
“That was one of the hardest battles that I’ve ever had,” Melhorn told The Daily Times. “I had to go to classes every day, and physically I was there, but mentally, it was stressful.
“Good things come to those who work for it. It’s been a long, long process, but we finally got it done, and I’m ready to get to play.”
Completing months of coursework to get his grades and ACT score up was just one of the hurdles Melhorn had to overcome to continue his playing career.
He also had to recover from a “severe foot injury” that cost him the final four games of his senior year.
“It’s hard because I haven’t actually played football in a long time, so I’m just trying to get back in the groove of things,” Melhorn said. “It was devastating going into my senior year and missing half the season. It was hard not being out there with the guys, but I love the game enough and I think if I get out there and keep going like I used to, I’ll fit in just right.”
The Scots open fall camp in a couple of weeks, hoping to build upon a historic season in which they won their first outright USA South Athletic Conference championship and made their second appearance in the NCAA Division III Football Championship.
Melhorn played offensive lineman at William Blount, but he has slimmed down from 265 pounds to 225 since season’s end, making his position at Maryville an unknown. It is likely he will play defensive end, linebacker or tight end.
“It’s going to be fun because the next couple of years we’re definitely going to be where we want to be and where people are going to expect us to be,” Melhorn said. “Coach (Shaun) Hayes knows what he’s doing, that’s for sure. It’s good going into a program that is already on the rise, and I think we’re going to be in a good spot.”
If he lands on the defensive side of the ball, Melhorn will get the opportunity to play alongside and learn from redshirt senior Trenton Cumby, who he has been friends with for three years after meeting him through some mutual friends.
Cumby was named a team captain for the second consecutive season in April. He has logged 58 total tackles, seven for loss, three sacks and two interceptions over the past two seasons and received second-team All-USA South honors last year.
“I’ve learned a lot from him, and if I stick around with him for a while, I think he’s going to teach me all the things I need to know,” Melhorn said. “… It’s like looking up to a big brother. To be able to play with somebody who has so much experience, it’ll do me good and I’m excited for that.”
After a lengthy wait, excitement was the overwhelming feeling as Melhorn put pen to paper Monday, making his dream a reality.
“It’s one of the biggest dreams I’ve had since I was little,” Melhorn said. “You always have that thought that you’re going to be playing college football, but once the time comes, you’re shocked. It’s crazy. Life goes by so fast.”