Stuart McNair

Veteran Alabama linebacker Rahsaan Evans will be starter vs. Washington

Alabama linebacker Rahsaan Evans will have first start in Peach Bowl

Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans has played in 39 football games as he approaches the end of his third year with the Crimson Tide, but the 40th is likely to be different than the others. Evans is expected to be a starter for the first time in his career when Bama takes on Washington in the Peach Bowl Dec. 31.
Evans was an outside linebacker in his first two seasons at Bama, but made the move to the inside this year, backing up with Reuben Foster at weak side linebacker and Shaun Dion Hamilton at middle linebacker.
In the Southeastern Conference Championship Game win over Florida, Hamilton suffered a knee injury that ended his season.
Evans, 6-3, 230, moved into the middle replacing Hamilton against the Gators and made one of the most memorable plays in the game, a crunching tackle at the goal line as Bama had an impressive four down stand.
Evans said he was aware that Florida attempted to go at him after the injury to Hamilton. “Oh, yeah,” he said. “They tested me. I guess one of the first plays I kind of messed up a little bit. Now we’ve gotten in the film room and something like that will never happen again.”
That was the bad news. The good news was that tackle at the goal line.
“It got a little buzz,” Evans said, acknowledging he had heard people talking about the play. “Hopefully I can do it again.”
He said he was watching the Florida guard, who blocked down, making an opening. Evans saw the running back, “and I was like, ‘I’m going to get him.’ That’s exactly what happened.
“It felt pretty good, so hopefully I can do it again.”
Evans said that he has a “pretty fine” grasp of the playbook at inside linebacker. “My whole time as a backup, that’s all I was doing is just learning the plays. Now I actually get a chance to be on the field and actually play.”
He said he is a better player for having had success on the field. “I got better with just being able to play at my position and be comfortable, be confident. It’s a different level (in a game). You can know your plays and be good in practice, but once you step out there on the field in the game, it’s a whole different story. You have to be able to retain the information you have and be able to do it and be confident with it.”
It’s not as if Evans hasn’t been playing. He ranks eighth on the team with 35 tackles, including three for loss and two sacks. He’s also had six quarterback pressures and broken up a pass and caused and recovered a fumble. He’s been in on 60 tackles and 7 1/2 sacks in his career.
He had both of Alabama’s sacks (for 14 yards) in the Tide’s national championship game win over Clemson last season.
The inside linebacker combination of Rashaan Evans and Reuben Foster reunites men who played linebacker together at Auburn High School, and Evans said the chemistry between the two is good, even to the point that they may be joking with one another during a game.
“We’re just out there having fun,” Evans said. “I feel like if you don’t have fun with the game you can take it too seriously and be too timid and not play to your best ability.“We try not to be too tense, because whenever you are in a big game like that you want to try to kill everything. That’s how we try to do it.”

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