Former Five-Star Running Back Likely Set to Visit Tennessee

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    A former Tennessee target and former TCU running back is officially making the rounds across different college towns. Running back Zach Evans, a former five-star back in the class of 2020, entered the transfer portal on Nov. 29. Since then, Evans has begun to look for his next collegiate destination.

    According to 247 Sports’ Steve Wiltfong, Evans is “tentatively planning to visit Tennessee this weekend.” Evans is coming off of a trip to Oxford, in which he met with Ole Miss and head coach Lane Kiffin. According to Wiltfong, though, Evans “loved” his visit to Ole Miss.

    In the first year under head coach Josh Heupel, Tennessee was able to revolutionize its offense. The Vols went from the 108th ranked offense in 2020 to the ninth-ranked offense in 2021 under the leadership of Heupel and his staff. One of the most significant areas of production was in the way Tennessee was able to incorporate their running backs into the scheme. Both Tiyon Evans and Jabari Small were able to rack up over 500 yards on the ground. Quarterback Hendon Hooker also added another layer to the ground game with over 600 yards rushing.

    If it is down to Ole Miss and Tennessee, two dynamic offenses that can present Evans with a lot of opportunities, a third factor will likely come into play. According to 247’s initial transfer portal report about Evans, it was said that name, image, and likeness deals will likely play a significant factor in the talented running back’s decision.

    During Evans’ original recruitment out of high school, after the situation around Georgia was wrapped up, Evans’ final visit before committing was to Tennessee. Evans wound up committing to TCU, but he was shown a lot of love while at Tennessee. In addition, Evans is working with an entirely new coaching/leadership staff in Knoxville, which is much more conducive to using Evans’ skills effectively on the field. After two years with TCU, Evans had 1,063 yards on the ground which was good for 7.9 yards per rush. Evans also had nine touchdowns during his career in Texas.

    On the Friday after Thanksgiving, Tennessee running back Tiyon Evans announced his intent to enter the transfer portal before the Vanderbilt game. Evans leaving Tennessee does hurt the Vols offensive overall, considering he had the highest average yards per rush on the team at 6.5. When Tennessee’s offense had Evans, Small, and Hooker working in the run game, it was a definite three-headed monster. Freshman running back Jaylen Wright had himself a nice inaugural season with 363 total yards and should continue improving into next year as well. But there’s no doubt that bringing in Zach Evans would give this team an unbelievable pairing to go with Small from a running perspective.

    Heupel and his staff have been on a hot streak lately in recruiting, snatching up some names from the high school recruiting pool. However, we know what Heupel was able to do with many talented transfer portal players last year as well. If Tennessee can get Zach Evans on campus and show him what their offense is about, the Vols may just wind up one step closer to replacing one Evans with another.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.