Evans ready to take big role with Tide

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Zenor

tuscaloosa, ala.» Rashaan Evans has had some of his big­gest mo­ments in Alabama’s most im­por­tant games. Now, he has a chance to cre­ate some more.

The ju­nior is likely to make his first ca­reer start against Wash­ing­ton in the Peach Bowl semi­fi­nal game on New Year’s Eve. Evans was the backup to mid­dle line­backer Shaun Dion Hamil­ton, who’s out for the rest of the sea­son with a knee in­jury sus­tained in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game.

Evans, one of the topranked Tide’s most her­alded re­cruits three years ago, quickly al­lowed a touch­down pass af­ter re­liev­ing Hamil­ton against Florida but also made a piv­otal goal line stop in the third quar­ter that coach Nick Sa­ban called “the turn­ing point in the game.”

He had his best per­for­mance last sea­son with two sacks in the na­tional cham­pi­onship game against Clem­son.

“I’m em­brac­ing this mo­ment a lot,” Evans said. “When­ever I get out on the field any­time — re­gard­less if it’s the cham­pi­onship game or not, man — I try to do my best. Just with this game up­com­ing, I’m go­ing to try to do the same thing I’ve been do­ing.”

Evans moved to in­side line­backer this fall af­ter two sea­sons on the out­side. The 6-foot-3, 230pounder is a prime ex­am­ple of the lux­ury of Alabama’s string of top-rated re­cruit­ing class.

One guy goes down, a five-star prospect re­places him. It hap­pened with All-Amer­i­can Minkah Fitz­patrick mov­ing over from cor­ner­back ear­lier this sea­son to re­place in­jured safety Ed­die Jack­son.

Now, it’s Evans’ turn. He has played in 39 games over the past three sea­sons with­out a start, record­ing 2.5 sacks and 35 tack­les so far this year.

“He’s em­brac­ing it well, get­ting in ex­tra film (work), work­ing hard,” said fel­low in­side line­backer Reuben Fos­ter, the Butkus Award win­ner. “The tough­ness is al­ready there. I ought to know, I play with him. It’s com­fort­able, I like it. It’s bad news for Shaun Hamil­ton, but he got the rest of his col­lege ca­reer to get back out there.”

Both Evans and Fos­ter were highly rated re­cruits from Auburn High School, who left for Tuscaloosa in­stead of stay­ing at their home­town school.

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