TCU football pulled off one of the most surprising flips of the recruiting class by landing 5-star running back Zach Evans – the No. 4 overall recruit in the DCTF rankings – the best recruit in the modern recruiting era for TCU.
Evans had a whirlwind recruitment over the past several months, but he's officially on campus and taking classes at TCU. Without question, Evans will step on campus right away and push his way onto the field.
The Horned Frogs ranked No. 7 in both total and scoring offense a year ago with true freshman Max Duggan under center. The running game ranked No. 3 in the Big 12 by committee, but top running backs Sewo Olonilua and Darius "Jet" Anderson are off to the NFL after combining for nearly 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. At his best, Evans blends the physical power of Olonilua with the breakaway speed of Anderson to create a true workhorse at the position.
The Horned Frogs are in desperate need of immediate contributors at the skill position spots. Blue-chip 2019 running backs Darwin Barlow (Newton) and Daimarqua Foster (Wichita Falls Hirschi) both enter the lineup after redshirting last season, but don't have many snaps to their names. The offensive line struggled in 2019; 2020 offensive guard recruit Garrett Hayes is a potentially elite contributor, but there are still major questions. Duggan is the leading returning rusher on the roster; the Horned Frogs need to protect his body and let him focus on developing the Big 12's worst passing offense.
Whether Evans can really impact this offense also depends on whether he can be a consistent receiving threat. The Horned Frogs lost first round wide receiver Jalen Reagor to the NFL, and don't have a returning receiver with more than 372 yards. Duggan needs some safe options around him to help turn the offense into at least an average Big 12 unit.
TCU hasn't produced a 1,000-yard rusher since Kyle Hicks in 2016.
Perhaps best of all, Evans comes to Fort Worth without too much wear and tear on his body. Evans was utilized far less during his senior season, as North Shore opted to save his body for a late playoff run. Evans was suspended from the state championship game for breaking a team rule, but also didn't rack up too many miles on his body during back-to-back state title runs.
Evans didn't make this process easy. He backed out of a NLI from Georgia, and then flirted with schools from across the country during this process. There's reasons for concern about Evans' personality fit with a taskmaster like Gary Patterson, who is open about how tough a transition it is for freshmen to adjust to his coaching style. The arrival of Evans also could create difficulty for the returning running backs. Evans, Foster and Barlow will all be freshmen at the same time. Offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie must find a way to keep all three satisfied with their roles.
Evans is the most talented recruit to come to Fort Worth in a generation. If Patterson and Cumbie can get the most out of Evans, he could be a game-changer.
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