Five-star linebacker recruit Rashaan Evans made some of the biggest headlines on National Signing Day — through little fault of his own — when the Auburn Tigers’ website and YouTube channel published his bio claiming he’d signed with the hometown school … only to find out he was actually signing with archrival Alabama at Evans’ announcement.
Most of the immediate reaction was light, mostly comical digs at Auburn for its unintentional blunder.
But, according to Evans, the matter has gotten more serious over the past week. According to Evans, a product of Auburn High School right in the Tigers’ backyard, Auburn fans’ frustration has gone too far.
"It’s getting worse," Evans told TideSports.com on Monday. "Someone actually put out an article about my family’s business telling all Auburn fans not to go there. We are going to eventually start losing money. People are telling restaurants in the town not to serve us. It’s hard for me to go out and chill with my friends like I have always done because people keep coming up to me telling me I made a bad decision.
"It’s grown men. They are asking me why I did this to them. I told them I had to do what is best for me."
All I did was commit to a university to get my education and pursue my dreams but a whole city gone try and treat me like I'm satan #Really
Social media backlash has become (unfortunately) an all-too-common theme for the recruiting process, particularly with high-profile recruits in revenue-generating sports like Evans. Search the Twitter handle of any high-profile commit or signee and there’s almost guaranteed to be a fan of an opposing team — often anonymous — wishing injury or ill will in their future endeavors.
Evans is just the latest in a long line of similar cases, though his proximity to the "offended" fan base and the choice of a bitter rival in the same state make it an interesting case.
"Auburn fans are saying I am going to ride the bench, and I am going to be like Reuben Foster. People are adding his family and how they are low-lifes. They talk about his mom. You wouldn’t think some of them are human," Evans said. "I knew it was going to be horrible. You know it’s out of hand when people come up to you saying stuff. People you don’t know. People who are grown men."
For his part, Evans believes he made the best decision for him and his family. He said the Alabama fan base and the coaching staff have made the transition easier.
"Kirby (Smart) always sends me an inspirational texts. He tells me not to worry what people are saying," he said. "He said to make sure once I get there just get ready for work."