Relationship carries over to UT

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The Tennessee Volunteers may be breaking in a new coaching staff, but assistants like linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen are using old connections to lure top talents to Rocky Top.

Four-star outside linebacker Rashaan Evans cited his relationship with Thigpen as a major factor in his recruitment to the Vols.

"Coach Thigpen, with him having been at Auburn, we already had a good relationship, but meeting all the other coaches — I had a lot of fun," Evans told InsideTennessee. "(Coach Thipgen and I) are cool. Our relationship is getting even stronger. Whenever I come up here he always shows me a good time. Really our relationship is just getting stronger and stronger."

Evans, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, is ranked as FOX Sports NEXT's No. 6 outside linebacker in the country and said that Neyland Stadium left a lasting image in his memory.

"The stadium — when we went to the stadium they showed us highlight videos and stuff like that," he said. "I got to see that and it gave me some chill bumps. When I went out there in the stadium it really showed me something. I am definitely going to think about that every time I come back. Seeing all that stuff it really makes me think every more about Tennessee."

Linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen is out front on Evan's recruitment.
(Danny Parker/

With Tennessee's linebacking corps set to lose five linebackers to graduation following the 2013 season, Evans is now a top priority for Thigpen, Butch Jones and the Tennessee staff.

"They told me point blank that they want me and told me that there are like five linebackers leaving so coach Thigpen told me he needs five linebackers," he said. "He just told me that they want me and they are all about me."

Evans, an Auburn, Ala., native, says that comfort with the institution, not the coaching staff, will be key in his decision on where to spend his next four years.

"Really just if I feel comfortable at the school," Evans said. "I really want to commit to the school and not the coach. Sometimes if you commit to the coach things are unpredictable because you don't know where the coach is going to go.

"Right now I am just open. I just want to pick the best place for me. Distance from home really doesn't matter to me. I just want to commit to the school that is going to be best for me."

Evans says he will be back to Rocky Top soon to continue to evaluate what seems to be a new swagger in the 865.

"I am going to try and make the spring game," he said. "They told me about the spring game so I am going to try to make that and I might come to a few practices."

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