Desmond Evans, the Lee County five-star defensive end, announces he’s going to UNC

Mack Brown has hauled in some impressive recruits since returning to coach UNC football last December. On Friday, Brown got a commitment from one of the best.

Desmond Evans, Lee County’s five-star defensive end, committed to North Carolina, making the announcement during a homecoming pep rally at the school’s gym.

As the song ‘Swag Surf’ blasted through speakers, Evans stood in the middle of his Yellow Jacket teammates, swaying side to side. He emerged from the crowd and unzipped his jacket, showing off a dark blue UNC T-shirt that complimented his dark shades. As Evans sat down to speak with the media, he stopped for a second to silence his phone as it buzzed on the seat next to him.

A buzz is exactly what he created by picking the Tar Heels.

“About two weeks ago me and my coaches sat down,” Evans told the media Friday. “We talked about everything, what was important and that’s when we came to a decision.”

Evans said the excitement surrounding the UNC football staff played a huge part.

“Since Mack is here and he’s a Hall of Fame coach,” Evans explained, “I was just thinking about it. He’s a good coach and he gets people to the NFL.”

Evans informed Brown Thursday night, but saved the news for the entire Lee County community on Friday. Doing it in front of the entire student body, sharing it with his classmates, is just the kind of person he is, according to his Lee County coach Steve Burdeau.

“I thought he did it a great way,” Burdeau said. “He involved his school, he involved his teammates. He wanted a lot of people to be a part of this thing. It’s not just about him.”

Evans, who’s 6-6 and 240 pounds, is the No. 2 defensive end in the country and the second best player in the state, according to 247Sports. He picked the Tar Heels over South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and Florida.

UNC, though, has always seemed to be the front runner. Evans’ Lee County teammate Jayden Chalmers committed to UNC in June and has been recruiting Evans to join him on the Tar Heels’ team ever since.

Evans also made several unofficial visits to Chapel Hill, including two on consecutive weekends in September. Evans admitted he was tempted to commit around the same time as Chalmers, but held off. He joked that he couldn’t tell Chalmers too soon because he “talks to much.”

But now the talk will be around the 2020 class Brown is bringing in, with Evans serving as the centerpiece. Evans should jump into the defensive line rotation right away and create matchup problems against offensive linemen, even as a young player. He sees himself flourishing in UNC co-defensive coordinator Jay Bateman’s system.

“They told me when I go there they are going to (create) mismatches,” Evans said.

Tim Brewster was the lead recruiter in the pursuit of Evans.

A two-sport athlete who is playing on both sides of the ball this year, Evans will be the premier player in Brown’s class of 2020. He’s the second-highest ranked player to commit to UNC since five-star Marvin Austin committed in 2007. Evans is the first five-star commit since Donte Moss in 2009.

Burdeau felt like Evans was leaning toward the Tar Heels over the last few months.

Of the top 10 players in the state, three of them are now defensive linemen who have committed to North Carolina. UNC now has commitments from five players in the top 15.

In the late 90’s, Brown built his best UNC teams behind a stout defense, with several defensive linemen he recruited going on to long NFL careers after playing for Carolina. The 2020 recruiting class now has six defensive linemen with the addition of Evans. Through seven games, Evans has 27 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks.

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Sports reporter Jonas Pope IV covers college recruiting, high school sports, NC Central and the ACC for the Herald-Sun and The News & Observer.