'Humbled' By Suspension, Michigan RB Chris Evans Hungry For 2020

"I learned a lot about loyalty," he said of his time away from the team.

Caputo & Fithian
November 19, 2019 - 8:24 am

© Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Categories: 

It's been a trying year for Chris Evans, and the Michigan running back knows he has no one to blame but himself.

Evans was suspended from school in February for an academic issue, but he'll be reinstated in January 2020 and he's ready to return to the football team. 

"It’s huge," Evans told 97.1 The Ticket. "I just had to wait my time. Had an academic misconduct issue, but I got that figured out and everything’s good. I’m back with the team, working out, practicing. It’s great to be back." 

Evans can't officially rejoin the roster until 2020, but he said he's been working out with the team since last Monday. He admitted he wasn't sure this day would ever come. 

"I always had doubts, because I didn’t know what could happen. If they could suspend for me a year, I didn’t know at this point what could happen, me coming back, so I’m just grateful for the opportunity and ready to get back rolling," Evans said. 

Despite his uncertainty, Evans, who coached football at Ann Arbor Huron and drove deliveries for Ahmo's Deli the past year to remain near school with his teammates, never considered a transfer. 

"Nah," he said. "The Michigan motto is, 'Those who stay will be champions,' and I really believe in that. Even growing up an Ohio State fan and Ohio State offering me two weeks before singing day after I'd been committed to Michigan for six months, Urban Meyer calling me and telling me, 'Make your dream become a reality,' that was a dream hearing him say that. But I had to stay loyal and stay who I gave my word to, and that’s what I went with." 

Evans, a redshirt senior, was supposed to the leader in Michigan's running backs room this season. He logged 300-plus carries, 2,000-plus yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns over his first three seasons. He was penciled in as the No. 1 back for 2019, on a team otherwise lacking experience at his position. 

Then he was forced to spend the season on the outside looking in. 

"I definitely learned a lot," Evans said of his time away from the team. "I know that you can be working hard for something your whole life, literally, and it can be taken away just for one mistake that you made. Perseverance. Through that time I could have not done anything or (gone home to Indianapolis) or tried to drop everything and transfer, but I learned a lot about loyalty." 

Evans also said he was humbled. 

"It was mind-boggling just stepping away. Not being a Michigan football player was kind of weird in public and stuff like that, but I use that as getting humbled and taking my slice of pie," he said. 

On top of his paying jobs, Evans also invested lots of his time in CE Stars, the non-profit 7-on-7 youth football program he founded in 2017. And when he wasn't coaching or working, he was training at the Xplosive Performance Academy in Southfield to stay in shape. 

For Evans, it all paid off when he gained clearance for 2020 in a meeting with a UM dean earlier this month. He laughed and admitted he was a little nervous.

"She’s new, so I was kind of her first case so she had to really make sure she put her foot down on what she did, and I respect that. I was kind of nervous when I went there, but she kind of laughed at me and said, 'You ain't got nothing to worry about, you’re good. Do this, X, Y and Z,' and that’s what I did." 

When the meeting was over, Evans said he immediately called his parents. Then he got a call from Jim Harbaugh confirming that his spot on the team was good for 2020. Having watched this season from afar, Evans is eager to join Michigan's new offense under Josh Gattis. He believes it suits his skillset. 

"We got Coach Gattis in the building, so he’s bringing a different culture to the game. Not using fullbacks as much -- I can’t go in full detail about in -- but in my opinion this is something I feel like I’m better fitted for as a running back. So I’m excited to get in there," Evans said. 

And he's eager to put 2019 behind him.