UGA target will stay at junior college rather than play in SEC this season

The biggest surprise visitor at UGA’s Dawg Night was Justin Evans, a junior college safety who is committed to Texas A&M.

It has been a wild and wacky week for Evans, who is rated as the nation’s No. 1 safety prospect out of the junior college ranks.

And it all started when the 6-foot, 185-pounder showed up seemingly out of the blue last Friday night at UGA.

Evans, who is a rising sophomore attends Mississippi Gulf Coast junior, told GigEm247’s Taylor Hamm that he was visiting his girlfriend in Atlanta and made a last-minute decision to drive over to UGA.

Nation's No. 1 JC safety, Justin Evans (247sports)

Nation’s No. 1 JC safety, Justin Evans (247sports)

Evans committed to Texas A&M last May and also has offers from UGA, Alabama and Auburn, among others.

Here’s where the story takes a really interesting twist: Evans said that he just recently found out that he’s eligible to enroll at a four-year school this summer rather than the original plan of waiting until after he finishes his two-year degree in December. That’s because Evans was an academic qualifier out of high school, so he doesn’t need the two-year degree.

Obviously, that new discovery raised some eyebrows (and hopes) at UGA because of the team’s urgent need for depth at defensive back. The Bulldogs have lost three out of four starters in the defensive secondary since the end of last season due to non-football reasons.

UGA wants him right now, Evans told GigEm247. “They showed a lot of love. They wanted me there now, not in December, which is what I want to do. The coaches didn’t know I was qualified so they were like, ‘You can come this season!’ so we talked a lot about that. Then, they showed me around campus.”

After Evans left his unofficial visit to UGA, he contacted Texas A&M about enrolling this summer rather than waiting until January. (It’s rare for a player to willingly stay in junior college another year over playing immediately in the SEC or at the D1 level)

On Tuesday night, Evans told GigEm247 that he talked to a Texas A&M assistant who advised him to stay at Mississippi Gulf for this season. Maybe Texas A&M didn’t have any more available scholarships available? Maybe Texas A&M didn’t want to get on the bad side of the junior college coaches for taking their star player unexpectedly this close to the start of the season?

Here’s how Evans explained it: “I just got off the phone with Coach (Terry) Joseph, and he said for me to come in this late and to know the defense right away, and play at the speed that I play at will most likely not happen. So he thinks it’s best for me to stay here, play this season, come in January and go from there. I told my coach about having three years of playing time but they said they highly doubt I play three years anyways so they think this is the best choice to make.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Mississippi Gulf Coast coach Chad Huff was asked whether or not Evans was indeed eligible to transfer this summer to a four-year school.

“He had … um … I’m not going to say a whole lot on that, know what I’m staying? He’s returning and coming back to Gulf Coast,” Huff told the AJC “He will be leaving here in January. He will sign with a four-year school in January.”

By staying at Mississippi Gulf Coast, Evans will now have only two seasons to play FBS football and not three. He’s expected to enroll at Texas A&M in December.


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— By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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