While a few thousand prospects in the 2020 recruiting class have finalized their college football homes, 5-star running back Zachary Evans is still figuring out his next stop.
Although he initially signed with Georgia, the school released Evans from his national letter of intent following an unreported incident. He'd quietly signed in December and planned to reveal his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.
Instead, the showcase put Evans in the spotlight for a different reason.
"First and foremost, I just want to apologize to my college coaches, for everything they are hearing," he said, per Shea Dixon of 247Sports. "I am really a good kid. I came in and learned from some former professionals. I made some stupid decisions and I am ready to compete at the next level."
As a senior, Evans missed a total of four games—including the state championship—as a result of two suspensions for breaking team rules.
Shortly after the Under Armour event, Georgia released the nation's No. 16 overall prospect from his NLI.
Because of NCAA rules, however, he's not eligible to submit a second letter of intent. That stipulation—which limits an athlete to signing one NLI per recruiting year—threw yet another twist into an already complicated situation.
So, no matter Evans' next choice, it won't be official until he's enrolled. And at this point in the academic year, he can't enroll until a summer semester.
That has created an exceptionally rare opportunity for programs to pursue a top prospect after February's signing period.
LSU and Texas A&M seemed to be immediate favorites to land Evans. Before deciding on Georgia, Evans visited LSU in October and Texas A&M in November. But the SEC schools quickly saw a few conference foes join the chase.
In January, Evans took official trips to Ole Miss and Tennessee. Florida also seemed like it would intrigue him if it made a push, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.
"There are a lot of teams that would take me," Evans told Trey Wallace of Fox Sports Knoxville in early February. "There are a lot of schools that reach out to me that haven't been recruiting me and want to start. A bunch of schools have reached out about me taking my last official with them. I'm just trying to keep it all in perspective and make the right decision."
According to Wallace, Evans said he plans to take his official visit as soon as possible and make a decision sometime afterward. The recruiting dead period ends February 29.
As of now, it appears Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M are the leading contenders. Given the constant changes in Evans' recruitment, though, that's not certain to last.
Among other reasons, the transfer portal will continue altering rosters. Evans may become a more appealing option for programs that currently don't have a need at running back. After all, he posted three consecutive seasons of at least 1,400 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in high school.
Since his next decision need not be rushed, it's possible a school will suddenly join the chase in late February or early March.
Wherever he ultimately signs, Evans will need to prove he's ready to meet expectations on and off the field. But if the running back does so, this strange recruitment saga will merely be a chapter in his football story instead of the main plot.