Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Relationships Key to 4-star DT recruitment

Arizona Western defensive tackle Craig Evans has been through the recruiting process before. This time around he knows relationships are the key.

“Things are going to be different this time around.”

That’s what Craig Evans has to say about his recruitment. The former four-star defensive tackle originally signed with Michigan State as part of the class of 2014, flipping to the Spartans just before signing day after having been committed off and on to Wisconsin for nearly a year and a half. Fast-forward to April of this year, Evans was granted his release to transfer from Michigan State, ending up at Arizona Western College.

This time around, Evans is really letting his personal relationships with the coaches be his guiding light in his recruitment. This is good news for Oregon State and head coach Gary Andersen, as Evans has a great relationship with Andersen that extends beyond the football field. It stems from his recruitment by Andersen to Wisconsin when he took over the program after Bret Bielema left for Arkansas. 

“The relationship I have with Coach Andersen runs deep. To be honest, that’s the only reason why I’m even talking with Oregon State is because of Coach A. We had a relationship previously back at University of Wisconsin. We have kind of always kept in touch, just to say stuff like I see you’re doing good and I’m proud of you. Basically, we have a relationship that is beyond football. If football wasn’t there for both of us, if it were to end today, Coach A and me would still be friends and he would still be an influence in my life.”

That relationship has paid off so far as Evans took his first official visit to Corvallis when the Beavers hosted Boise State. He came away impressed with both the program and the people around the program.

“Corvallis is definitely a great place and a place I could definitely see myself going to. It’s definitely a place with folks that I want to be around and I could go in there and do what I came there to do. Just a beautiful place and a great town. The coaching staff obviously is the main reason why I’m interested in OSU. ”

Despite Oregon State being the frontrunner in his recruitment, other programs are being considered including a couple from SEC-country. Arkansas has long been a program Craig has held in high regard, due to his ties with Head Coach Bret Bielema; however, he’s not exactly sure where they stand currently.

“To be honest, I’m going to have to get back in touch with Coach B (Bielema) as I haven’t talked with him in probably 2 or 3 weeks now. So I need to get in tune with him to see where Arkansas is at. But me and Coach B, I had a relationship with him prior to me coming here, prior to me going to Michigan State. He was actually the first relationship I had in recruiting as I had been committed to him when he was at Wisconsin. Then I recommitted to Coach A at Wisconsin before switching to Michigan State.”

The other SEC program that is involved in his recruitment, Ole Miss, is a newer program that only recently offered, but one that he is heavily considering. Several other programs have tried to get Craig’s attention, but he has mixed feelings about them. 

“Kentucky has been in my ear a little bit, not too much going on there. USC, Colorado, you know schools like that. But like I said, I’m approaching this recruiting process with a different mindset, way more mature this time. I’m not even going to talk to you if I’m not considering going there.”

As young men go through the recruiting process, athletes can be drawn to programs for a number of reasons. For Evans though, seeing as this is his second go with it, he knows exactly what he is looking for in the college of his choice.

“I’m just a guy who’s big on relationships. I’m not big on the facilities or into the flashy uniforms or anything like that. I’m a guy more into being on the same page with the dude who I’m about to put my life and my future in their hands.”

The 6’4” 310 pounder plans on graduating from Arizona Western with his Associates degree this December and will be looking to enroll at the college of his choice after the winter break ends. He has a plan for how he’d like things to shake out the rest of the way.

“I’m trying to have my decision made like a week after my season is over. I’m going to take my official to Ole Miss, and any last minute things that I want to check out, I’m going to do that. But I should be committing here in the next month or so, and then signing with that program come December.”

BeaverBlitz will continue to keep in touch with Evans as his decision nears.

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