Every Tuesday and Thursday, SI Sooners unveils a new installment in the Recruiting ROI series. Over the course of 10 weeks, the series examines 20 Sooners over the last 20 years who dramatically exceeded expectations in the crimson and cream.
One Power 5 offer.
That's all Jordan Evans had.
But as it turned out, that's all he would need.
As a prepster, the Norman North product earned a three-star rating from both Rivals and 247Sports, but barely registered on the radar for the nation's elite programs. In a 2013 outside linebacker group that featured future NFL standouts Jaylon Smith, Alex Anzalone and Kendell Beckwith, Evans was merely an afterthought. 247 ranked him the 118th overall outside linebacker prospect in the class.
Evans had offers, but none of significant prestige. Ohio, New Mexico, and Louisiana-Lafayette were among the schools that took a chance on Evans.
But that one Power 5 offer made Evans' decision easy.
Bob Stoops, Tim Kish and Cale Gundy saw enough potential in Evans to extend a scholarship, and naturally, the hometown kid jumped at the opportunity. Evans signed with the Sooners, and it wasn't long before he got his first taste of collegiate action. Evans appeared in two games as a true freshman, recording twelve tackles and a pass breakup.
As a sophomore in 2014, Evans wasn't expected to start. But that all changed when Oklahoma handed down a season-long suspension to middle linebacker Frank Shannon in the wake of sexual assault allegations. All of a sudden, Evans was the next man up alongside Dominique Alexander and Eric Striker.
He more than rose to the occasion.
Evans morphed into a veritable force at the core of the Sooner defense, recording 93 tackles (6.5 for loss), an interception and two forced fumbles. He'd follow up his breakout campaign with another strong year in 2015; despite missing two games, Evans recorded 78 tackles and earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors. He also recorded the first touchdown of his collegiate career with a 41-yard scoop-and-score against West Virginia.
Bob Stoops named Evans a team captain for the 2016 season, and the hometown sensation certainly validated Stoops' faith in him. Evans capped off his career in the crimson and cream with a banner year, racking up 98 tackles (9.5 for loss) and 2.5 sacks. He also led the team with four interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Evans notched a spot on the All-Big 12 first team, and Oklahoma claimed a second consecutive Big 12 title en route to a Sugar Bowl victory.
Evans legitimized his status as an NFL prospect with a strong pro day, and the Cincinnati Bengals eventually selected him in the sixth round of the 2017 draft. A slew of injuries in the Bengals' linebacker corps pressed Evans into duty by the end of his rookie season, and he responded with five tackles in his first career start. In 2018, he earned the right to start in Week 1 as the Bengals' weak-side linebacker. In a campaign cut short by an ankle injury, Evans recorded 61 tackles and his first NFL interception.
Evans is under contract with the Bengals through the 2020 season, and stands to become a free agent at year's end. When his contract expires, he'll have made over $2.5 million as a professional football player.
And it all started with one Power 5 offer.
To get the latest OU posts as they happen, join the SI Sooners Community by clicking “Follow” at the top right corner of the page (mobile users can click the notifications bell icon), and follow SI Sooners on Twitter @All_Sooners.