Evans' Twitter handle: @Kidnplay_abc123 [Photo: 247]
Michigan has added their third commit of the week in Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis ATH Chris Evans, who pledged to the Wolverines today after a title-winning day on the track, per 247's Steve Lorenz:
"Coach Harbaugh and all the coaching staff there, the connections they have, former NFL coaches." Evans said of what sealed the deal. "The feeling there at Michigan."
Evans told Harbaugh on Saturday afternoon, a day after winning a state championship in the 4x100.
"He told me congratulations, and then he spent 10 minutes talking to my mom on the phone. My mom likes everything about Michigan."
Evans is the ninth commit in the 2016 class, and while he's listed by most outlets as a running back, Sam Webb has repeatedly suggested Michigan is recruiting Evans as a slot receiver.
4*, #9 RB,
3*, #47 ATH
4*, 90, #5 APB,
4*, #6 APB,
Evans' rankings are all over the map. Scout is the most bullish on him; as you'll see in the scouting section, Allen Trieu really likes his game. 247 bumped him up to four-star status this week; they'd previously had him as a high three-star. Meanwhile, Rivals has him well off the four-star mark—their last four-star athlete is 26th in the position rankings—and ESPN hasn't evaluated him at all. (They haven't even updated his offer sheet since early May.)
Scout, Rivals, and 247 all list Evans at either 5'10" or 5'11" and 180-195 pounds. ESPN has him at 6'0", 190. It's tough, based on differing camp reports, to figure out which figure is closest to accurate; regardless, he's got the look of a slot receiver or a change-of-pace back.
Since I've already mentioned Trieu, here's his free evaluation of Evans from his Scout profile:
All-purpose back who could easily be a slot in college. Excellent hands and pass-catching ability. Very comfortable running routes. A smooth kid who glides through traffic. Has good, maybe not elite speed and can make cuts and moves while going full speed. He's elusive and does a great job of finding running lanes. Not necessarily built like a tailback and can still add more bulk to his frame. - Allen Trieu
Trieu is basing that on multiple viewings. He called Evans "criminally under-recruited" after the Core 6 Showcase in January, when Evans held only four offers and earned camp MVP honors. Trieu took it a step further after February's Best of the Midwest Combine, saying Evans "continue[d] to show he's one of the best, not only in the state, but in the Midwest and possibly the country," after he won positional MVP at running back. Trieu also saw Evans at last weekend's The Opening regional in Columbus:
Among the other running backs who stood out were Demario McCall, a lightning quick Ohio State commit who earned his invitation to The Opening. He's a slot and a return man at the next level in our estimation, but is elusive and fluid. The same can be said of Chris Evans, who juked some guys out of their socks and as usual, caught the football well.
While Evans didn't win position MVP honors in that case, it was a loaded field that included three of the top-ranked backs in the country in Miles Sanders, Tavien Feaster, and McCall.
Evans hasn't just stood out to one person, of course. Rivals' Josh Helmholdt liked what he saw from Evans on both sides of the ball at February's Pylon 7-on-7 tournament, naming him the #7 overall performer ($):
Evans made his biggest impact on defense during Saturday's pool play, but he got into the action more on offense during Sunday's tournament play. In the first game of the day, he led Core 6 Indiana to a win by catching two touchdowns and a P.A.T. He caught one of the touchdowns on a fade route in the corner of the end zone, but his most impressive catch was on the point after. The 6-foot, 188-pound athlete also locked down a corner position for his defense and played very well there.
If Evans ends up on defense, he could play safety or cornerback.
247's Steve Wiltfong has also seen plenty of Evans on the camp circuit, and it's probably no coincidence 247 has him ranked higher than any other outlet save Scout. Wiltfong praised Evans' hands, ability in space, and even his blocking at the Best of the Midwest Combine. He said Evans "could not be checked" at a camp last December featuring several top Indiana prospects. Most recently, Wiltfong named Evans the top performer at Michigan's satellite camp in Indianapolis this week:
Indianapolis (Ind.) Ben Davis four-star running back Chris Evans typically leaves the field he played on as the best player and the same goes for this day.
Evans has speed, evident in him making the state finals in the 100-meter dash among other events, but it’s how fluid he is that impresses. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound Evans is so smooth changing direction. He’s an impact guy on the next level at running back, receiver, cornerback or safety.
At this particular camp, Evans was a cut above the rest through running back agility drills and in 1-on-1s it was easy for him to abuse the linebackers on the field. He’s sure-handed. Perhaps Evans best trait is his love for the game. If there is a football in the air, he’s typically performing at that particular camp.
It's a little surprising Evans hasn't received more attention. Ben Davis is a powerhouse program that won the state title last year, and Evans was a huge part of that, rushing for 131 yards and a score in the championship game after coming up big time and again earlier in the playoffs. The recruiting analysts who have taken the time to evaluate him, at least, really seem to like what they see.
Evans held offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, and a decent chunk of the MAC. 247 notes interest, but no offer, from Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, and Tennessee.
As stated earlier, Indianapolis Ben Davis is one of the top programs in Indiana. Some notable recent recruits to hail from the school include former Minnesota QB/WR MarQueis Gray, former Michigan State S Isaiah Lewis, current Indiana standout S Antonio Allen, and incoming Notre Dame freshman LB Asmar Bilal.
According to 247, Evans rushed for 1249 yards and 18 touchdowns on 185 attempts (6.8 YPC) and caught 51 passes for an additional 676 yards (13.3 YPC) and ten scores as a junior. He also made a solid impact as a sophomore, with 970 yards of offense and 12 combined touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
Davis certainly has speed, evidenced by his 11.05 100-meter dash time, but he's not considered elite in that category, so his listed 4.4 gets four FAKEs out of five.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Evans looks to be ticketed for the slot, which is where he fits best both as a prospect and within Michigan's class. The Wolverines don't have a ton of depth there unless Brian Cole ends up in the slot. If Cole stays on the outside, Michigan will only have senior DaMario Jones, juniors Ross Taylor-Douglas (if the positional nomad sticks there) and Freddy Canteen, and sophomore/RS freshman Grant Perry on the roster when Evans arrives on campus.
Evans could potentially compete for playing time in the slot and on special teams immediately; a more realistic scenario may involve a redshirt and apprenticeship behind Canteen before battling for a spot with Perry.
As has become the norm with Harbaugh recruits, Evans has positional flexibility; he could also end up at running back, cornerback, or safety.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has quickly worked their way up to nine commits in the class. The situation hasn't changed much since Kiante Enis committed earlier this week:
It's still far too early to take a stab at the final numbers for this class; it's clear the coaches are eyeing a class in the neighborhood of 20-25 prospects, which would require a decent but not unreasonable amount of attrition before Signing Day. Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive tackle, defensive end, outside linebacker, and—depending on where Enis and
maybe Evans end up—defensive back remain areas of need.
Michigan entered the week at 35th nationally on the 247 Composite team rankings. After adding Michael Onwenu, Enis, and Evans, they've shot up to 20th.