Five-Star DE List Vols Among Finalists

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    (Photo via HighSchoolOT.com)

    Back in early May, Desmond Evans released a list of his top 10 schools. On Friday afternoon, he trimmed that list in half, and Tennessee made the cut.

    Evans is a five-star defensive end who plays for Lee County High School in Sanford, North Carolina. He cut his list down to just five finalists in his recruitment, and the Vols were included along with Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. The teams Evans eliminated from his list of favorites were Alabama, Clemson, Duke, NC State, and Ohio State.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Evans is the No. 21 overall prospect, No. 2 weak-side defensive end, and the No. 1 player in the state of North Carolina in the 2020 class. Despite being ranked lower overall (30th) in the regular 247Sports rankings, he’s actually the No. 1 weak-side defensive end in those ratings.

    The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Evans hasn’t visited Tennessee in 2019 yet, but he did visit UT’s campus during the 2018 season. The Vols hosted Evans on an unofficial visit when they played Alabama in Neyland Stadium in October. Tennessee’s previous staff were the ones to extend a scholarship offer to Evans, giving him an offer back in June of 2017.

    Evans has been a frequent visitor to UNC’s campus in 2019. He’s visited at least seven times this year alone, and the in-state Tar Heels have hosted him well over a dozen times in his recruitment. Considering UNC’s campus is less than 45 minutes away from Evans’ home of Sanford, it makes sense why he’s seen the Tar Heels so many times.

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    On the field, Evans is very hard to stop. He fights through blocks well and isn’t easily held back or stymied by offensive linemen. Even when he’s double-teamed, Evans often finds a way to get by his blockers and make a play. His long arms and huge frame are a dangerous combination, and he has a pretty quick first step. He has some deceptively good strength, and he’s relentless in pursuit of the ball carrier. Evans’ technique could use some work, and he’ll need to add quite a bit more weight unless he plays as an outside linebacker at the next level. But overall, he has immense potential and has the motor coaches love to see.

    As a junior, Evans put up some impressive numbers for Lee County. In 10 games, Evans amassed 69 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a blocked punt according to MaxPreps. He returned that fumble recovery for a touchdown and also forced two safeties. Evans also plays basketball for Lee County, and he averaged 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior.

    Tennessee currently has 15 players committed to them in their 2020 class, but none are from true defensive end prospects. Four-star B.J. Ojulari is listed as a weak-side defensive end, but he’ll likely play at outside linebacker in college. The Vols currently don’t have a player committed from the state of North Carolina yet, either.

    Our Take:

    While the Vols did survive the cut from Evans’ previous list of top teams, it’s hard to imagine the talented North Carolina product ending up anywhere that isn’t UNC. The Tar Heels have built up a strong relationship with him for a while, and he’s clearly visited them much more than any other school. He does seem to have at least a decent relationship with UT, but the Tar Heels are definitely the favorite for him.