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January 28, 2014

Evans' parents critical in the five-star's recruitment


AUBURN | Rashaan Evans almost committed on more than one occasion.

 What stopped him? The careful and specific involvement of his parents.

Rashaan's father, Alan, played at Auburn from 1982-1983. Rashaan's mother, Chenavis, attended Auburn simultaneously and holds four degrees, including a B.A. in Psychology, M.Ed in Counselor Education, MS in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a Ph. D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

They are active participants in their son's recruitment.

"We've always been involved because we've always been involved in his life. We naturally became engaged in the process back when this all began," Chenavis said

The Evans' are in general a private family, especially Chenavis, who avoids the spotlight. The Evans' chose to talk to AuburnSports.com about the family's journey through the recruiting process and how they've helped guide one of the nation's best prep football players towards his bright future.

But about that almost commitment.

"Oh yea. He's young and he came close, he's had all those emotions, but we have a process that he has to go through before he makes a decision," she said.

 That process is a unique one and it can be attributed to why Rashaan isn't already committed.

"We would ask him a series of questions and if he can't answer them, then he's not ready," Chenavis said. "He says he's ready, we ask him some questions and then let it sit for a few days, then he'll come back and realize he should wait. I want to hear him say, 'I thought.' That's what I want to hear, that he's worked through the process of thinking things through.

"He's gotten really good at answering questions and we've gotten even better at asking them."

Alan Evans is surprised his son's recruitment has dragged on this long. The family was prepared for a shorter process.

"At first, we didn't think it would go all the way until signing day. Then as we created relationships with the coaches, things got out of whack as far as making a decision earlier," Alan said. "The relationships with the coaches makes it difficult to commit earlier."

Now, the process is nearly finished. The Auburn (Ala.) Rivals100 five-star linebacker has completed his official visits and is preparing for a final decision that's scheduled for signing day. Evans' three finalists are Alabama, Auburn and UCLA, but who leads?

Evans' father believes his son as a good idea.

"He's been going through the process, he knows what team is turning him on right now," Alan said.

Evans' parents prefer a somewhat emotionless decision. Alan has worked diligently not to push his son to the school he wore the orange and blue for, and Chenavis has implemented a data-driven approach, all in hopes that the right school rises to the top.

They feel like the strategy has worked as Rashaan developed his own criteria early in the process, criteria that will ultimately decide where he will spend his next four years.

"It's a part of sharing with Rashaan things he should consider," Chenavis said. "He's been blessed and privileged to have this opportunity, but we asked him to establish a criteria. He had to come up with four or five things that are most important. It's an emotional process and Rashaan has developed relationships that are fantastic. In terms of what we want Rashaan to do, we don't mind some emotion, but we also want data, facts and statistics to weigh heavily on the process and what's important to him."

Alan has stepped to the forefront of Rashaan's recruitment in recent weeks, doing interviews with local and national media and shielding his son from the intense attention as signing day nears.

But, Chenavis may be the most underrated individual in Rashaan's recruitment.

"She may have more pull than I do, when it comes down to it, she has more pull than me," Alan said.

 Chenavis respects and appreciates her role.

"I'm more behind the scenes, very analytical in the process. Alan is more on the front end and has insight that I don't have because I never played," Chenavis shared.

"We each have a role to play. Rashaan knows sometimes he needs to take emotion out of it so he can be objective. The decision Rashaan makes is one he has to live with, therefore he has to step back and take his time. He has to work through the pros and cons and live with it. That's where I come in." 

Alan played running back for the Tigers for two seasons before transferring out due to a crowded backfield. Evans was one of nine running backs that signed with Auburn before the 1982 season - Bo Jackson was one of those nine.

Alan wants his son to make a decision with a clear mind and no thought to his past.

"I try to let him make up his own mind, instead of me pushing him one way or another," Alan said. "If you force a kid to do something and it doesn't work out, they'll blame you. It has to be his call."

But Evans' father has an equally important task.

Alan remembers the process. He remembers the promises made and the difficulty discerning truths from non-truths as coaches made their pitch.

"We try to figure out if what they're telling you is true," Alan said. "You take that information and decide how it's going to fit well with your son. Will he have an opportunity to fit like they say he will. Everybody is telling your great things, but who's telling the truth?"

Alan and his son's conversations mostly center around position fit. Alabama and UCLA see Evans excelling as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, where Auburn sees Evans shining as the "star" in the Tigers' 4-2-5 scheme.

"I think that 'star' position is perfect for him," Alan said. "It's a position that allows you to be a dynamic player, which he is. He can play linebacker, he can rush, he can drop in coverage, play man-to-man, play the tight end -- it's a dynamic position for a dynamic player.

"But I think Rashaan is comfortable with either position after hearing pitches from all the coaches over the last few weeks."

All that's left is for Rashaan to think. He cancelled his return trip to UCLA scheduled for the weekend prior to signing day. Evans will host Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, in addition to coaches from UCLA and Alabama before Sunday.

Then it's announcement time, but there still may be more information to gather. Regardless, Evans' mother is tremendously proud of how her son has handled an incredibly intense situation.

"I think there's more to learn still, but we're closing in," Chenavis said. "We're pleased with how Rashaan's handled it and how he's matured. He's grown through this whole process. I hope the fans will respect his decision, because at the end of the day, it's his life."

Twitter: @JHokanson

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