Tulsa grad transfer Akayleb Evans commits to Missouri over Notre Dame

Tyler James
ND Insider
Former Tulsa cornerback Akayleb Evans, top middle, announced his graduate transfer decision Friday night. Pictured, Evans celebrates a sack of Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers in 2020.

The crowded pursuit of former Tulsa cornerback Akayleb Evans ended with a victory for Missouri on Friday night. 

Evans, a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining, announced his commitment to the Tigers on Instagram. Evans previously named Notre Dame, Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri and Jackson State as his top five choices before making his decision. 

Notre Dame offered Evans a spot on its roster on May 17 and hosted him for a visit last week. But that wasn’t enough for the Irish to land Evans and his 23 career starts. 

The 6-foot-2, 188-pound Evans played in 30 games with 73 tackles and 11 pass breakups across four seasons at Tulsa. He played in only three games as a junior in 2019 due to a shoulder injury, but started nine games for the Golden Hurricane last season. 

Evans would have given Notre Dame’s cornerback depth chart some much needed experience. Sophomore Clarence Lewis, who started six games last season, and senior TaRiq Bracy, who has eight career starts, are the only game-tested cornerbacks on Notre Dame’s 2021 roster. 

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The rest of the depth chart consists of junior Cam Hart, sophomores Ramon Henderson and Caleb Offord, early enrolled freshmen Philip Riley and Ryan Barnes and incoming freshmen Chance Tucker and JoJo Johnson. 

Kelly did speak highly of the progress made by Hart and Henderson this spring, but that didn’t stop the Irish from chasing after Evans. 

“Both these guys have elite traits — long, athletic, the ability to play the ball,” Kelly said of Hart and Henderson in April. “Both of them were wide receivers. Both have excellent speed. ... When you line them up, those two look as good as anybody in the country.”

Notre Dame added a grad transfer commitment from Marshall offensive guard Cain Madden earlier this month. Madden, a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press and the Walter Camp Foundation last season, will likely earn a starting spot on Notre Dame's offensive line.

Wisconsin grad transfer Jack Coan is also the leading candidate to win the starting quarterback job for the Irish this season.

Follow ND Insider Tyler James on Twitter: @TJamesNDI.