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Tulsa Cornerback Akayleb Evans Is An Intriguing Prospect For Notre Dame

Breaking down former Tulsa cornerback Akayleb Evans, who was recently offered a scholarship by Notre Dame
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Notre Dame made a recent offer to Tulsa graduate transfer cornerback Akayleb Evans, and it was a very intriguing situation and he is an intriguing prospect.

The Fighting Irish certainly don't lack for numbers at cornerback, and with the return of Clarence Lewis and TaRiq Bracy there isn't necessarily a "need" for another field cornerback, which is the position Evans played at Tulsa and the position Notre Dame is recruiting him to play.

Here's some background on Evans:

Height: 6-2
Weight: 188

Career Starts: 23 (6 in 2017, 5 in 2018, 3 in 2019, 9 in 2020)
Career Stats: 82 tackles, 11 pass break ups

Hometown/High School: McKinney, Texas/McKinney High School

*** Started 23 career games at Tulsa but did miss games in both 2018 and 2019 with injuries, including a season-ending shoulder injury in game three in 2019.

*** According to PFF he gave up just 42 receptions in 27 career games on 571 pass snaps. Opponents racked up just 490 passing yards against Evans in a league known for having a lot of strong passing teams.

*** Allowed just seven completions in five games against Power 5 opponents. Allowed just 45 combined passing yards in those games. 

*** For context, Notre Dame's best corner in 2020 - Nick McCloud - gave up 410 yards in 2020 alone on 385 pass snaps.

*** Has received offers from Notre Dame, Louisville, TCU, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Washington State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Oregon State

IRISH BREAKDOWN ANALYSIS

*** Is primarily a field corner in the base alignment, but the high volume of tempo teams in the AAC has allowed him to gain experience playing in the boundary as well. Also has snaps playing in the slot.

*** Evans is extremely long and physical, both in coverage and against perimeter runs and screens. Flashes good block destruction ability, especially against the run. Gets downhill in a hurry against perimeter throws, both screens and quick game.

*** Plays a lot of man coverage. Patient when pressing, more of a mirror man defender than a jam guy, at least in the games I watched. When he jams his length makes him highly effective, and he shows fast hands in coverage. At times his base gets narrow and it slows down his transitions (both vertically and downhill), but when his technique is right (and its right more often than not) he shows the ability to smoothly open up and run. 

*** Length, quickness and route recognition allows him to overcome a lack of elite top-end speed. Plays with very good angles, which combines with his length to make quarterbacks hesitant to challenge him. Very effective against the quick game for this reason, does a great job beating receivers to spots and closing off throwing lanes.

*** More of a lock down cover corner than a playmaker on the ball.

Here is analysis on Evans from Ryan Roberts of Coast To Coast Scouting:

"Operating at field corner for Tulsa, Akayleb Evans has outstanding size and length for the position. Regarded as arguably the most gifted defender on the Golden Hurricane defense over the last couple years, Evans was lost to injury in 2019. He returned to the field in 2020, flashing some of the traits that had everyone excited during his 2018 campaign. Evans has played a variety of coverages for Tulsa, seeing success in both press, off man and zone coverage. His best work comes in press where he is patient at the line of scrimmage, using his length to disrupt wide receivers off the line. Always in phase, Evans is a menace at the catch point. He is an active run defender who has no issue getting dirty near the line. Evans will need improvement with the football in the air. If he is able to add that comfort playing the catch point to his game, he could profile as arguably the most talented cornerback for the Irish in several years."

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