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Oklahoma football: How linebacker Tay Evans returned to football and could earn playing time as a freshman

Evans’ father, Bobby Joe, was a basketball player for the Sooners in the mid-90s, and basketball was Tay’s sport of choice after a frustrating sophomore year of football caused him to walk away from the sport.
by Ryan Aber Published: May 31, 2014
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— Tay Evans knew where he wanted to play.

He just didn’t always know what sport he wanted to play once he got to the University of Oklahoma.

Evans’ father, Bobby Joe, was a basketball player for the Sooners in the mid-90s, and basketball was Tay’s sport of choice after a frustrating sophomore year of football caused him to walk away from the sport.

Two years later, though, Tay is enrolled at OU, where he could earn quick playing time at linebacker.

The Sooners were already thin at inside linebacker going into spring football and with Frank Shannon’s status up in the air after a sexual misconduct allegation, Tay could quickly be the backup to sophomore Jordan Evans at middle linebacker.

That could’ve never happened without Allen (Texas) defensive coordinator Corey Crain.

When Tay decided he wanted to give up football, his father tried to talk him into giving the sport another chance.

“Just play both until you figure out which one you’re better at,” Bobby Joe told his son.

But Tay wasn’t listening.

Crain wasn’t letting it go though.

Crain had seen plenty of players go from not playing varsity as sophomores to becoming Division I signees a couple of years later. He thought that could be Tay’s path.

For a month, Crain all but stalked Tay in the mornings.

Tay would be shooting the basketball in Allen’s gym, and Crain would be waiting for him when he finished.

“I’d just stand outside the gym when he was done and I’d just talk to him about my thoughts about him as a football player — as a dual-sport player,” Crain said.

After a month of those conversations with Crain and head coach Tom Westerberg, Tay gave in.

“Fine, I’ll just play football,” Evans said. “Then I went to spring ball and fell in love with the game.

“It’s a crazy story.”

Westerberg and Crain made sure not to pressure Tay though.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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