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Alabama Football Film Room: Rashaan Evans Is An Athletic Freak

Rashaan Evans makes plays regardless of where you line him up.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Much like another Alabama linebacker, Rashaan Evans was a much-heralded five-star recruit out of Auburn who stood out on special teams right away as a freshman and slowly worked his way towards more playing time.

Evans has some serious pass-rushing talent, but his athleticism lets him play any of the linebacker spots. With depth at OLB, the coaching staff moved him inside last spring to back-up Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton. It paid off with Hamilton’s unfortunate injury against Florida.

Despite only starting those final two games, Evans ranked 8th on the team in tackles; only Foster had more tackles (21) than Evans (18) in those two games. With Foster’s departure to the NFL, Evans is in prime position to finally lock-down a full-time starting gig.


3rd and 6: Evans is standing up over the left tackle with Reuben Foster to his right. Roster rushes straight on, and Evans stunts inside. He gets picked up by the right guard and the running back; and while no one really gets through, the pressure is enough to send Stephen Johnson running. Evans spins out of his blocks and finds Johnson right in front of him. Evans hits him and gets his hand in there, ripping the ball right out of Johnson’s grasp. He dives for it but can’t quite secure it, which is fortunate for Bama since Ronnie Harrison happens to be in position for the scoop and score.


2nd and 8: Evans and Shaun Dion Hamilton are the inside backers. They’re both going to rush with a simple twist. Hamilton crosses in front of Evans and gets picked up by the center. Evans now has a huge lane and shows off that incredible explosion. The fullback misses, though the running back chips him enough for Austin Allen to avoid the sack and step up. Allen hurriedly uncorks it while on the run and throws it right at Tim Williams, who’s in a rare moment of pass coverage. Williams gets the deflection, and the pass falls yards short of a wide open receiver.

3rd and 12: Arkansas is in hurry-up mode and manages to catch the Alabama defense unprepared. Evans was jogging off the field and had almost made it to the sideline when he was sent back out there. He hurries to get in position, but he’s right smack in the middle of the 30 yard line numbering when the Razorbacks snap it. Bama only rushes three, but Allen has nowhere to go with the ball. Jonathan Allen can only be contained for so long, and he ends up forcing Allen to scramble. Christian Miller is coming from behind as well. And there there’s Rashaan Evans, who’s been tracking Allen his entire dash back into position. The left guard is turned back, helplessly watching Allen beat the tackle, and isn’t expecting a rusher to come out of nowhere. Evans does, though; and he hits Allen low. Miller gets him as well, and they each get half a sack.


3rd and 1: It’s third and short, so Alabama is crowding the line. Evans is standing to the left of Foster. WR John Ross motions right to left, but Bama doesn’t bite. Evans takes a late, hesitant step, and the left guard crashes into him. Evans struggles to disengage and doesn’t really play a meaningful part in the play. He never gives up, however, and joins in the gang tackle after forward progress had been stopped.

1st and 10: Washington is in shotgun with two receivers on their right. #6 comes in motion and takes the handoff from QB Jake Browning. Evans had started shuffling to his right pre-snap once the receiver motioned; and as soon as he sees the handoff, he explodes into the backfield. He read it, and he reacted quickly. Unfortunately, he took a bad angle, and Chico McClatcher squirts by him. He gets all the way to the 20 yard line before Ronnie Harrison wraps him up and brings him down.

1st and 10: Evans is at his usual strongside spot. He takes a good first step so he won’t be caught flat-footed and identifies the power run coming his way. Evans gets to the edge and launches himself into the pulling guard, blasting him right into the running back, Myles Gaskin. Gaskin has to bounce back and is knocked off balance. Evans sheds the block and, along with Anthony Averett, makes the tackle with Gaskin gaining just a foot or two.


1st and 10: Evans is in as the sole inside linebacker, and he’s showing blitz. He fakes but then drops back to spy Deshaun Watson. Watson zeroes in on Hunter Renfrow on a quick slant, and I don’t think he realizes Evans isn’t rushing. He throws and Evans jumps up, swatting the ball with both hands. The ball flies up but lands too far for anyone to get an interception.

1st and 10: Watson’s in shotgun with Wayne Gallman a yard back and to his left and an H-back on the right. The slot receiver motions left to right to try and create a little confusion, but the defense isn’t fooled. Evans sees the handoff to Gallman and keeps his feet bouncing. Gallman has to come around Evans’ way since Da’Shawn Hand and Da’Ron Payne beat their blocks. Evans is waiting at the edge and greets Gallman. Ryan Anderson, Jonathan Allen, and Ronnie Harrison all join in the tackle.

1st and 10: Evans is the middle linebacker again with Clemson going five wide. He threatens to rush; and, this time, he does. He times it perfectly and shoots right through with no one accounting for him. Watson barely has time to field the snap before he’s running for his life. Evans doesn’t lose him, though and smashes into him. Ryan Anderson and Jonathan Allen come up to finish the play off.

And I’m throwing this play in since it was brought up in the comments.

3rd and goal: Florida is on the verge of scoring and keeping the score close. They’ve driven 65 yards down the field after Bama started the half with a three and out. Florida has gained one yard on their previous two plays, both runs. Everyone’s ready for another run with Florida heavy formation out there.

RB Jordan Scarlett is lined up at FB, and it’s just a quick dive for him. He takes the handoff, runs a few steps, and jumps forward. On the snap, Evans had taken a step forward anticipating run. He sees the handoff and hits the accelerator. He fills the hole and collides into Scarlett before he’s even made it back to the line of scrimmage. Evans blows it up for a loss of one. The Gators throw an incomplete pass on the next play; and Alabama’s offense turns it on, driving 98 yards for a touchdown to kill any hopes Gators fans may have had.

Here’s a slo-mo replay.