"Fan" is short for "fanatic," and nothing brings out the fanatic like college football.
Case in point: new Alabama signee Rashaan Evans.
The 5-star linebacker from Auburn (Ala.) High School chose the Crimson Tide over the Auburn Tigers on national signing day, and his decision hasn't been received warmly in his own hometown.
According to Andrew Bone of TideSports.com, life for Evans has been rough since signing on the dotted line.
There have been articles urging citizens to avoid the Evans family business, people have been telling local restaurants not to serve them, and fans on social media have lit Evans up, going so far as to say they hope he gets injured.
"Social media has definitely been the worst," Evans said, according to the report. "People on Instagram are telling me how they hope I tear my ACL in game one. They will laugh when I do. They are saying my family is horrible and how they didn't raise me right. It's just crazy."
Evans is taking it as well as could be expected.
All I did was commit to a university to get my education and pursue my dreams but a whole city gone try and treat me like I'm satan #Really— Rashaan Evans (@616evans4) February 11, 2014
He's right. All he did was sign with a university. He isn't a traitor, a liar or a "Benedict Arnold."
He's a football player. More importantly, he's a kid.
Passion is what makes college football great, but it is also what brings out this sad side of college football.
It blurs the line of decent fan behavior. Criticizing a young man for making a life decision and making life difficult for his family isn't decent behavior.
Evans told Bone that it was something he planned for.
"You know I knew this would happen," he said. "I knew people would be mad and say stuff. I didn't think it would be like this. It wasn't a complete shock to me, but I guess that's just how fans are."
The recruiting business gets criticized quite a bit for what some perceive as giving unnecessary exposure to high school kids who become entitled by the attention. That's not the case at all.
A high school player's recruitment is the last time he'll have full control of his football future until his second NFL contract. There's nothing wrong with taking time with the decision, changing your mind and getting all the information possible before making a final choice.
Sadly, this isn't a problem that's exclusive to Auburn or the SEC. It's a college football problem.
Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones told ESPN.com (subscription required) last February that he received death threats during his recruiting process, and former Alabama linebacker Brent Calloway was labeled "Benedict Arnold" when he flipped from Alabama to Auburn. He would later flip back to Alabama and sign with the Tide.
Current Crimson Tide linebacker (and Evans' former Auburn High School teammate) Reuben Foster and running back T.J. Yeldon also have become enemies of Auburn after both flipped from the Tigers to the Tide when they were prospects.
Evans now falls into the same boat. If and when he succeeds, it will be a not-so-gentle reminder to Auburn of "what might have been."
If he fails, it won't go un-noticed.
It shouldn't be that way. Evans didn't betray Auburn, nor did he pull one over on the coaching staff. He milked the system—a system that won't be in his or any player's favor for a long time. Everybody is a critic and everybody has a voice thanks to social media, which means people who take exception to his actions have channels to vent their frustrations.
Social media and increased accessibility to high school prospects has made covering and following recruiting much easier, but it is unfiltered. It's raw. It's reality.
Sometimes reality is sad, depressing and infuriating.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.
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