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Jay Harbaugh highlights Chris Evans’ pass catching prowess, RB room leadership

SMU v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Michigan’s Chris Evans is the elder in the RB room, and someone who is eager to start the 2020 campaign after missing the 2019 season.

Evans has been one of the most elusive players of the Jim Harbaugh era, while being a weapon in the passing game and rushing attack alike. Throughout Evans’ Michigan career, he’s rushed for 1,722 yards with 14 TDs along with 40 receptions for 392 yards and 2 scores.

Heading into the year, running backs coach and special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh has noticed Evans’ veteran presence aiding Michigan’s younger backs.

“He’s been outstanding, just a total pro, really the leader of the group,” Harbaugh told the media on Wednesday. “It’s what you expect, a guy who has played a lot of football, who’s been around a lot of different schemes and teams so he knows what it means to be a good teammate, knows how to lead. He’s doing all those things that you would hope and expect for a guy like that to do.”

Evans has been a head coach of a youth flag football team the past couple of years, so pointing out to his peers what’s correct and what isn’t is something that comes natural to him. “He’s always imparting wise words — we kind of joke with him about being old because he just had a birthday and I think he turned 23 which makes him the grandpa of the group,” Harbaugh said. “The cool thing about it, with that age really has come a lot of wisdom and he’s just a tremendous leader for the young guys and it’s great because they look to him and want to see ‘how do you do this, what do you do about that’. He’s got the courage to let ‘em know ‘hey now, let’s not do it like that, we do it like this here.’ I see a guy who’s a great leader, grateful to have him in the room, and grateful for the leadership that he’s showing, and just excited to watch him do what he loves to do this fall.”

Evans’ leadership isn’t the only thing he’s bringing to the RB corp, his presence also brings a receiving threat to the unit. This will mark a difference on the depth chart for Michigan from a season ago. “A lot of times that the guys we had on the field, they’d get out on check-downs. They weren’t really a factor in the quarterbacks thought process, their progression. And a guy like Chris, who can beat the majority of linebackers or safeties that he runs a route on, and then who can make the play and catch that ball — that adds a little bit different element to where you can start including the running back in a progression for the quarterback of having the ball go to him first, or go to him second and be excited about it. Not as kind of an ‘oh, they took this away, let’s check it down.”

It’s been nearly two years since we last saw Evans in action, now we’re just a couple weeks away from seeing his elusiveness on the field once more. It’s been a long road back for Evans, but he made it, and now he’s a leader for the 2020 Michigan Wolverines.