As a freshman free safety, Evan Joubert spent a lot of time lined up deep hoping each upcoming snap was a pass play so that he'd have a chance to make a play on the ball. These days, Joubert gets the ball just about every way possible as the Saints workhorse tailback and kick returner.
Joubert had a breakout season last year, running for 1,754 yards and 28 touchdowns on 291 carries. He gained 100 yards or more in 10 of 12 games, surpassing his own high expectations.
"I put in the work so I was expecting big things, but in some of the games the yards and touchdowns just kept coming and coming and I was like, ‘Yeah," he said. "I expected big things but not like how it turned out."
Joubert averaged 6 yards per carry and found the end zone on nearly 10 percent of his rushing attempts. He said the big plays and excitement of kick returns are his favorite parts of the game.
"Scoring touchdowns and making big runs are the best parts of football," he said. "Kick returns are fun because you are running but still have to think about how to set stuff up when everybody is flying up the field towards you. You have to decide which way to go and think about if a cutback will be available; it's pretty cool. On punt returns, you're back there by yourself; it's everyone against you. That is fun."
Although he didn't see the big stats coming, Joubert says vision is his biggest strength as a runner.
"I see the holes and I hit them," Joubert said. "I can see which holes are open, where the cuts are and if I can bounce it outside."
Joubert said he and quarterback Cooper Miller keep defenses on their toes.
"He can throw the deep ball, and when we hit on a few of them the defense has to loosen up a big and I can run for four, five yards at a time," he said. "We help each other out for sure.
"On defense, we are going to be real strong up front. We had a good team from last year and didn't lose too much. We can be good again and hopefully win state after making the semifinals last season. "
Former Saints Jaleel Goodwin, Bailey Hardy and Jeremiah Ceasar helped Joubert find his way as an underclassman. Now Joubert is taking on a leadership role, encouraging underclassmen to focus on the mental part of the game.
"I tell them to go out to practice, play your hardest, make sure you're paying attention even if you're on the second team," he said. "You never know when your number will be called. Even on the scout team, coaches are watching you."
A multi-sport athlete, Joubert spent the summer playing for a travel baseball team.
"I love baseball, it is a thinking game," said Joubert, an infielder. "I played third base this summer and was able to do a lot of traveling which I enjoyed."
Joubert said he hopes to compete in both sports in college.
"Right now I have gotten some interest for baseball, but I would love to be able to do both at the next level and have not ruled anything out," he said. "I love being competitive, having rivals, talking trash before games and building a brotherhood with teammates."