Death of Tony Evans Jr. weighing on minds at UW
LARAMIE -- For roughly 11 minutes of Garrett Crall's Zoom call with the media Tuesday, it was all fun and games. He talked about being healthy for the first time in years, the talent littering this Wyoming roster and high expectations in Laramie this fall.
His carefree, laidback style was only accentuated by his long hair and backward ball cap. Not to mention his trademark smile that we haven't seen much of for the better part of a year.
Then I asked him about Sunday's fatal shooting of incoming freshman Tony Evans Jr., who was gunned down inside a Dallas hotel room and later died before arriving at a local hospital.
The tone quickly shifted.
Crall, one of four Wyoming team captains, never met the 17-year-old. COVID-19 restrictions didn't allow recruits to visit UW in 2020. That doesn't mean the impact hasn't been felt by Crall, his coaches and the team as a whole.
"It's sad because I never got a chance to know him," a visibly emotional Crall said. "it's hard to talk about. I never I never knew the kid, but it makes you tear up because, obviously, our coaches spoke highly about him, and being able to experience and grow like I have here in Wyoming, I would have loved to be able to be that guy's teammate and just been able to help him these six months I would've been here with him."
Kelli Smith of the Dallas Morning News Tweeted Monday that Evans Jr. also had a baby on the way and a friend told the reporter "That was his hunger to finish college and make it to the NFL."
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said that him and wide receivers coach, Mike Grant, will head to Dallas this week to attend Evans Jr's funeral.
"It was really hard. You know, young people with such a great outlook and a bright future, we were certainly excited about Tony joining our program," Bohl said, adding that he coached Evans Jr's dad, Tony Evans, at the University of Tulsa in 1985, making this even more painful. "... You know, it was heart wrenching just to (hear it). And, you know, I mentioned that we want to certainly support the family."
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Bohl said he spoke with Evans Jr's father earlier this week.
"You know, we expect to bury our parents, we just don't ever expect to bury our children," Bohl said. "So, a violent loss of life that should not have happened. Unfortunately, that's part of our society right now."
Evans Jr., a 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver, signed with the Cowboys during the second signing day on Feb. 3, joining Lancaster High School teammate Da'Qualen "DQ" James.
Evans Jr. was listed as a three-star recruit by 247sports. He was recruited by Northern Colorado and Wyoming after snagging 21 passes for 465 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games as a junior. In 2020, Evans caught 13 balls for 268 yards and four touchdowns.
Crall was also on the UW roster in 2019 when incoming freshman Naphtali Moimoi, 18, was killed in a boogie boarding accident in his native California. The university invited his family to the home opener against Missouri that season and honored him in front of a capacity crowd inside of War Memorial Stadium.
Crall hopes to see that again.
"Right now, it was hard to hear for the whole team," he said. "But right now, I mean, I just pray for his family and just hope that they know once you're a Cowboy, you're always a Cowboy. You're always in our family.
"So, I hope his family knows from our team, and the whole state, that they'll always be one of us. I hope to see them at a game sometime and be able to connect with them."
As of now, no one has been taken into custody for the shootings, which also sent another unidentified man to the hospital. He is listed in stable condition, according to the Dallas newspaper.
Investigators have asked anyone with information about the case to contact Detective Kim Mayfield at 214-671-3646 or firstname.lastname@example.org and refer to case number 061917-2021.
Crime Stoppers has offered a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the case. Anonymous tips may be provided at 214-373-TIPS.