2016 Season Countdown: #70 Chris Evans

2016 Season Countdown: #70 Chris Evans


June 30, 2016

Chris Evans

Name: Chris Evans
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 190 lbs.
High school: Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis
Position: Running back
Class: Freshman
Jersey number: N/A
Last year: Evans was a senior in high school (LINK). He ran 188 times for 1,115 yards and 15 TDs, while also catching 40 passes for 411 yards and 4 TDs.
Final TTB Rating: 68

Evans was offered in late May of last year, and he committed shortly afterward. Initially, he was wanted as a running back, but other ideas have been floated since: slot receiver, cornerback, safety, etc. The one school that could have thrown a wrench into his commitment was Ohio State, and they did eventually offer in early January. He scheduled a visit to Columbus, but before it happened, he canceled it and announced that he was solid to Michigan and essentially didn’t want to rock the boat.

I had a hard time placing Evans in this countdown. He’s a speedy “running back” without a clear position right now. He could be a big-play back. Or he could be a slot receiver, where his route running and understanding of the passing game might take some time. I don’t think he will move to defensive back this year, since the coaches recruited him for offense, but that’s a possibility down the road. Evans also has some upside as a kick returner. So where will he play this year? I don’t know. I think he might get a shot to return kicks, since Michigan depends so heavily on Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, and Jehu Chesson for their primary positions. I also think Evans brings an element of speed to the running back position that might not be available elsewhere, so perhaps a couple screens and a few handoffs might be in order.

Prediction: Backup running back, kickoff returner

5 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jun 30, 2016 at 1:29 PM

    Mystery man. Freshman athlete with no clear position seems like a better-than-average bet to red-shirt. In some years I would peg him as a potential kick-returner, but with Chesson and Peppers being elite threats and a handful of promising freshman WRs who will probably get snaps anyway, it seems unlikely there’s much of an opening here for Evans. Especially considering kick returns should be infrequent given Michigan’s defense and the soft schedule.

    If he plays as a freshman, my guess would be RB, but there too there are a bunch of options there too. If you look at the depth chart, DB is the position of biggest need at the moment, so I would guess Evans gets a shot there at some point and he spends the season moving around practicing at various positions.

    I think this is a little high in the countdown as Evans seems very unlikely to contribute this year unless he really comes in and blows people away. Evans does offer a different look but with 4 veteran RBs and 2 early enrollees (plus Peppers and Hudson), experience will work against him.

    I would put Higdon ahead of Evans. While he’s not an impact player he also could easily be the #2 or 3 back if injuries strike and our projected top 3 have all had injuries in the past. Higdon is far more likely to contribute. Higdon may be replaceable by guys like Walker or Davis, but the chances that Evans is not replaceable are tiny.

    I will throw one low-probability odd-ball qualifier in though. If Michigan installs a package of plays for Peppers at RB, and Peppers gets hurt — they might use Evans as another option in that package. Or even run that package with the 2nd unit to try it out.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3849
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jun 30, 2016 at 10:04 PM

      I don’t know. It sure seemed to me like Michigan was trying to limit some touches for some guys on kick returns last year. Peppers was the punt return guy because he was so good at fielding the ball (plus, he has the skills to make big returns), but after Chesson returned one for a TD against Northwestern, he got used less. I think they are/were looking for someone besides full-time starters to return kicks. It might be McDoom or Nate Johnson or Drake Johnson or David Long or Chris Evans or someone else, but I just don’t think they’re going to settle on giving a starter the primary kick return job.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jul 01, 2016 at 3:56 PM

        A starter returned every kick last year. Lewis, Peppers, and Chesson got all but 2 returns: 1 PR by Darboh and 1 KR by Thomas.

        I kept expecting to see somebody like Drake Harris or Brian Cole get a shot but they didn’t, though I do think Harris might have been back on some kicks IIRC.

        I think they’ll again try to but the ball in the hands of Peppers, Chesson, and Lewis when they can. Even if not, there’s a lot of other options that seem at least as likely as Evans to be impact returners.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3849
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jul 01, 2016 at 4:59 PM

          I do think Harris was back there a little bit, but like I said, they were trying to limit touches for some guys. I think the coaches even said at one point that they thought Chesson was doing too much on offense/special teams, so they took him off the kick return team.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6285
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jul 01, 2016 at 6:05 PM

            Chesson’s first return of the year was Northwestern. Half his returns (which was all of 2) came in the last 3 games. Maybe that’s just because Michigan’s D finally gave up some scores but he certainly wasn’t taken off the kick return team entirely.

            I think what you’re saying might be true about Peppers since he was already playing a ton of D snaps and returning punts and then by OSU was also at RB. With Chesson it seemed like they were hunting for ways to get him the ball all year.

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