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Are Buckeyes considering pursuit of 5-star running back Zach Evans?

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Zach Evans is too talented to completely ignore if Ohio State wants another running back. (Jeff Sentell/Courtesy)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Are Buckeyes considering pursuit of 5-star running back Zach Evans?

Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. On Monday, we examine the reasons Ohio State could make a move on 5-star running back Zach Evans despite his topsy-turvy recruitment.

Will Ohio State take another look at Zach Evans?

The internet is abuzz. The speculation is rampant.

What does it mean when a college football coach follows a high school football player on a social media application?

That’s what everyone seems to be trying to figure out now that Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline has followed Houston North Shore 5-star running back Zach Evans on Twitter.

For the unaware, Evans is the country’s top-ranked running back prospect in the Class of 2020. He signed with Georgia in mid-December but has been released from that Letter of Intent, though the reasons for that have never been publicly discussed. Evans has been linked to a number of schools throughout his wild recruitment including Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M, Texas and others.

Ohio State was rumored to be receiving an unofficial visit from Evans back in the summer. Lettermen Row wrote about that possible trip in June after the 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back included the Buckeyes in his final-five schools.

“Ohio State isn’t keen on bringing in players for official visits unless they believe there’s a real possibility it can land the prospect. So, if he makes the trip, this weekend is sort of a prove-it trip for Evans. A chance to show he’s serious about his interest in the Buckeyes.”

Evans didn’t make the visit at that point, as expected. Ohio State then moved on, choosing to focus on other running backs like Bijan Robinson who appeared to be more realistic options.

With Miyan Williams signed and Evans able to enroll anywhere he wants, should the Buckeyes rethink that stance?

Why is Zach Evans still available?

As programs like Ohio State consider the possibility of recruiting Evans, the holdup is definitely not his talent. Evans is the country’s top-ranked tailback because he’s very good at football, but a number of questions around his off-the-field antics have plagued him throughout the recruiting process.

Lettermen Row has spoken to a number of people who have given considerable insight into Evans and the question marks around him. Every conversation has ended with the same general conclusion: Evans isn’t a bad kid.

What he is, though, according to those who’ve been much closer to his recruitment than anyone covering Ohio State has been, is immature and often entitled. There are also concerns about some of the people around his decision-making circle and a belief that he’s not taken advantage of the potential mentorships available to him because of the high-profile nature of his recruitment.

Evans has some of the most respected high school coaches in Texas at two-time state champ North Shore. But he missed each of the last two state title games for disciplinary reasons, and those issues plagued him for a majority of his senior season. Evans did a mini-interview at the Under-Armor All-American Game with Deion Sanders by his side, speaking vaguely about his mistakes and receiving a little backup from Sanders himself.

There are a number of schools around the country that will give Evans a shot based on his tremendous talent. What happens moving forward in his career will be up to the talented but immature prospect.

Will Ohio State, Zach Evans reconnect?

This is the million-dollar question, and one that likely has no concrete answer yet.

In Columbus, the culture of the program is stronger than it’s ever been. And if there’s a program in the country suited to take on a personality risk, Ohio State could be it. If Evans is interested in taking the first step in changing the perception around him, he’d be eager to prove that in a program like the one Ryan Day runs — but he’d have to do so knowing full well that any slip up at all could cost him a second chance to play for a perennial college football playoff contender.

Ohio State is hosting Dalton (Ga.) 4-star running back Jahmyr Gibbs this weekend for an official visit. Gibbs is the priority when it comes to a second running back in the Buckeyes 2020 class — not Evans. The relationship between Ohio State and the Georgia Tech commit far outweighs any relationship with Evans no matter how many Buckeyes coaches begin following him on Twitter.

However, there’s not much in the way of optimism when it comes to getting Gibbs to leave the south for college, and the belief among those at Ohio State right now is that he’s more likely to stay committed to Georgia Tech than he is to flip to the Buckeyes.

But he’s making an official visit to campus, and Ohio State obviously has a lot to offer a young running back in this recruiting cycle.

Landing Gibbs would remove any possibility of a renewed pursuit of Evans. And for that reason, I think it makes sense that the Buckeyes would wait until after the visit from Gibbs before settling down and really diving into whether or not to kick the proverbial tires on Evans.

There has absolutely been some discussion about whether or not it’s worth doing. But to this point, Ohio State has not made a decision about whether or not it will go down that road in the coming weeks.

Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Join the conversation below in the comments and sign up for Scarlet Sunrise, Lettermen Row’s morning newsletter that will get your day started with all the important Ohio State news you need to know. Prefer video? Follow Buckeyes football on YouTube with Lettermen Row. You can also get your recruiting fix by subscribing to Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.

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Brunstar
Brunstar

Gibbs or bust.

Jeff
Jeff

Agree.

Hockinghillsbilly
Hockinghillsbilly

Hard pass, don’t need the drama.

Nick
Nick

Would you take Mo C again? I would.

Williard
Williard

Why Gibbs or bust? What does anyone on here know about Zach?

Jave
Jave

Two things:

1. The speculation I’ve read online is that UGA (or its boosters) gave the kid $100k to sign and he took it, decided not to sign, and dared UGA to do something about it. Almost have to admire the hustle there.

2. Deion Sanders is the absolute last person that should be around any kid with previously-existing red flags.

Brunstar
Brunstar

Disagree on Deion Sanders. Some former players didn’t mature until a few years in the NFL. If a Pro Football Hall of Fame player wants to mentor a troubled kid and put him on the right path I’m all for it. Some troubled kids need that kind of relationship with mentors with credentials to flourish.

BucksBBest
BucksBBest

Immature or entitled might not be disqualifiers, but BOTH should be. Gibbs’ film looks really good.

Hockinghillsbilly
Hockinghillsbilly

Hard pass, don’t need the drama.

Kid Buckeye
Kid Buckeye

Put Alford as the lead and we will not even get a visit from him.

Gabriel
Gabriel

Let’s focus on committing Gibbs and shoring up the suddenly dangerously depleted defensive backfield.

Birm

Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.

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