Michigan will be without its most experienced running back for the entire 2019 season.
Chris Evans, who has rushed for 1,722 yards and 14 touchdowns over the last three seasons, was suspended by the university earlier this year due to what he called an “academic mistake.” Over the weekend, Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed to The Detroit News that Evans is “suspended for the year.”
Evans appealed the university ruling in an effort to have the suspension cut from a full year to a half year, which would have enabled him to return for his senior season. However, the appeal did not come to fruition and Evans is no longer enrolled at Michigan.
In March, Evans told The Detroit News that he got a job in Ann Arbor and would continue to train to stay in football shape before returning to school in January 2020. From there, he can return to the team for his fifth-year senior season.
Michigan inexperienced at running back entering 2019
Evans’ absence is a considerable blow for the Michigan offense, especially after Karan Higdon opted to leave school for the NFL. Evans has been a consistent contributor since he arrived on campus. He rushed for 614 yards as a freshman, 685 yards as a sophomore and 423 yards last year as a junior. Evans also has 40 catches for 392 yards in his UM career.
Michigan is coming off a disappointing conclusion to the 2018 season. After losing the season opener to Notre Dame, the Wolverines won 10 games straight before losing out on the Big Ten East title in a brutal 62-39 loss to rival Ohio State. The season concluded with an embarrassing 41-15 loss to Florida in the Peach Bowl.
Those losses prompted a change, and Harbaugh hired Josh Gattis from Alabama to run the Michigan offense — an offense that is expected to look different in 2019. Gattis inherits stars at quarterback (Shea Patterson) and receiver (Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins), but won’t have much experience at running back with Evans unavailable.
Without Evans, senior Tru Wilson, redshirt freshman Christian Turner and freshman Zach Charbonnet are expected to compete for carries in 2019. Wilson, a former walk-on, was third on the team with 364 yards last fall. Turner had 95 yards in three games. Charbonnet was the highest-rated offensive prospect in UM’s 2019 recruiting class.
The Wolverines open the 2019 season at home against Middle Tennessee on Aug. 31.
More from Yahoo Sports: