Zach Evans is a lot of things.
Immature? After being suspended for not surrendering his phone prior to a playoff game, his maturity was rightfully called into question.
An enigma? One of the top players in the country and the highest-rated running back in the state signed an NLI with Georgia and never told anyone — then asked to be released from it.
A character risk? Maybe. It’s hard to say if Zach Evans is a bad kid or just someone who has been dragged for being an indecisive teenager without a lot of guidance in his life.
Talented? This one shouldn’t have a question mark — it’s a stone cold fact that he is one of the most talented and dominant players in the 2020 cycle, and possibly the best running back to come out of the Lone Star State since Adrian Peterson.
But what will Zach Evans be for TCU Football now that he has officially joined the program as its’ highest-rated recruit in history?
If you spend any time with teenagers, there are certain things you know to be true when it comes to how they behave. Inconsistency, indecisiveness, and irresponsibility can be the norm as young people grow and develop and figure things out along the way. It sounds like Evans struggled with some of those things; missing half of a playoff game for taking the ACT isn’t a damning indictment against his character, nor does not giving up his phone make him a bad person — maybe just an immature one? You can make excuses for nearly everyone of Evans’ trangressions — the ACT was him trying to graduate early and get on campus, the phone trying to stay connected due to a sick relative — and justify it all away without a second thought: he’s just a kid who needs some guidance and the steadying hand of a hard-driving coach. Or you can go the other way and talk about “red flags” and character flaws and convince yourself that your team’s staff backed away and that you’re glad he’s someone else’s problem. We have seen plenty of both since rumors of his commitment TCU took off Sunday night; Frog fans were ecstatic at the thought of signing the one-time #1 player in the class of 2020, while those spurned by his “wild” recruitment looked for reasons to be glad he wasn’t coming to their campus.
Pundits have called him both the second-coming of Adrian Peterson and a player that needs to switch positions; it remains to be seen what he actually becomes, but more than likely, he’s something better than what TCU has but not something quite good enough to vault them to a Big 12 Championship whenever the next time we see football is (that will ride more on Max Duggan’s shoulders than any running back or other position player, of course). At the end of the day, we know this much: he was incredibly low-risk as a member of the class of 2020, took very little capital as a May signee, and if it doesn’t work out, Darwin Barlow and Daimarqua Foster are ready and waiting in the wings to help you forget this ever happened.
Aside from Evans and his talent alone, the question must be asked — what does signing a 5* player for the first time do for the rest of recruiting?
The Frogs haven’t had trouble bringing in talented players since joining the Big 12; TCU Football has regularly been just behind Oklahoma and Texas in the conference recruiting power rankings, and have won big battles against both for stars. From Jalen Reagor (OU) to Quentin Johnston (Texas), Gary Patterson and his staff have managed to flip top-rated players from Blue Blood foes while also turning also-rans into NFL draftees (LJ Collier, Ben Banogu, etc).
Evans comes from one of the best high school programs in the state, and one that has a top-rated quarterback who recently went back on the market. He is well-connected in Texas High School Football of course, and his timeline was filled with high-profile players congratulating him on signing with the Horned Frogs. Great players can shine a spotlight on a program when they don the school’s colors — but it’s not like TCU is a great unknown or an underdog in the Lone Star State, having regularly been at the top of the Texas College Football power rankings over the last decade. I don’t expect a deluge of five star players to follow in his footsteps to Funky Town, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t lure a top talent or two to join him in purple and black.
Ultimately, Zach Evans is one player, though a very good one. There is a reason GP made the push to get him, and that alone should have us excited. How it impacts things on and off the field, though, remains to be seen.
Should be fun to watch, at least!