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Name: Chris Evans
Weight: 216 lbs.
High school: Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis
Position: Running back
Class: Fifth year senior
Jersey number: #12
Last year he played (2018): I ranked Evans #15 and said he would be a backup running back with 120 carries for 650 yards and 5 touchdowns with 22 catches for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. He ran 81 times for 423 yards (5.2 yards/carry) and 4 touchdowns, plus 18 catches for 148 yards and 1 touchdown.
TTB Rating: 68
Okay, every year I screw up and leave someone off the countdown, having to fix it halfway through once I realize my mistake. I thought I was doing well this year, because I made DOUBLE SURE to include every 2020 signee and carry over every roster member from 2019. But of course, Chris Evans wasn’t a signee and wasn’t on the 2019 roster, so I had to wedge him in here after I realized my mistake.
Evans took a step back in his true junior season of 2018, going from 600+ rushing yards in each of his first two seasons to just 423 yards in 2018. However, he did reach a career high in receptions (18) while watching Karan Higdon handle the starter’s workload. The coaching staff really seemed unable to get him going, with his only successful games coming in blowouts or mismatches (SMU, Rutgers, Western Michigan, etc.). It was the first year he did not reach 100 yards in at least one game, with a high of 86 coming against the MAC’s yearly sacrifice, the Broncos.
This year I decided to place Evans at #16.5, a few spots higher than Zach Charbonnet (LINK), not because I think Evans will be the starter or take a plurality of the workload. The reason is that I think Evans opens up some more possibilities for the offense. He’s the best receiver out of Michigan’s backfield, and Josh Gattis’s offense is a knockoff of systems that have used running backs in the passing game more often than what we saw Michigan use in 2019. Saquon Barkley caught 54 passes at Penn State. Alabama’s top two backs caught 22 and 20 passes in 2018 when Gattis was there. Even the forgettable Bill Belton caught 26 passes for Penn State back in 2014.
Michigan running backs totaled 20 catches in 2019, led by Charbonnet’s grand total of 8.
Assuming Gattis wants to replicate the more diverse passing game we’ve seen in other versions of this offense, I think Evans will pair well with Charbonnet in the backfield. I would like to see both of them on the field at the same time, and I would like to see Evans used in the RPO game as a slot receiver. Whether that will happen or not remains to be seen, but I think it would be a mistake to just use one running back at a time when the Wolverines have three guys available with starting experience (Charbonnet, Evans, and Hassan Haskins).
Michigan’s most talented non-freshman skill guys are the following group, so I would try to get them together whenever possible:
- WR Ronnie Bell
- WR Giles Jackson
- RB Zach Charbonnet
- RB Chris Evans
- TE Nick Eubanks
Prediction: Backup running back
Here are some highlights to remind you of some of his ability: