LARAMIE — Craig Bohl plans to be there in person when another recruit he lost far too soon is laid to rest.
Wyoming’s coach said he will travel to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for Tony Evans Jr.’s funeral once arrangements are finalized. Evans, just a couple of months removed from signing with UW out of Lancaster (Texas) High, was fatally shot at a Dallas-area hotel over the weekend.
Bohl said receivers coach Mike Grant, who helped recruit Evans to UW, will also make the trip. The Cowboys’ coaching staff has been in communication with Evans’ family since the shooting occurred during the wee hours of Sunday morning.
“It’s really hard,” Bohl said following the Cowboys’ fourth spring practice Tuesday, his first time being made available to the media since the incident. “I mentioned to (Evans’ father) Tony Sr. that we expect to bury our parents. We just don’t ever expect to bury our children. A violent loss of life that should not have happened. Unfortunately that’s part of our society right now.”
The Dallas Police Department, which is investigating the incident as a homicide, has not released any additional information. To this point, suspects and motive have both eluded police, who are offering as much as $5,000 for any information leading to an arrest.
Evans was one of the last recruits to officially join UW’s 2021 recruiting class along with his high school teammate, DQ James, who both inked with the Cowboys in February. As a senior at Lancaster, Evans had 13 catches for 268 yards and four touchdowns as a tall, rangy receiver that Bohl described shortly after he signed as someone with the ability to “stretch the field.”
But Bohl will never experience the joy of coaching Evans or watching him mature over the years in the Cowboys’ program following Evans’ sudden death, a realization that’s been even more difficult for Bohl to stomach given his personal connections to Evans’ family going back decades. Then a young linebackers coach at Tulsa, Bohl was on staff there when Tony Sr. was the starting running back for the Golden Hurricane in the mid-1980s.
“So I know his dad. His dad is in law enforcement,” Bohl said. “It was heart-wrenching just to see anything (regarding the shooting).”
Evans was scheduled to join his new team sometime this summer. Unfortunately for Bohl and a group of what would’ve been future coaches and teammates, it’s not the first time they have had to say goodbye to a fallen brother before ever really getting the chance to say hello.
First, it was Naphtali Moi Moi who never made it to campus. Almost exactly two years prior to Evans’ death, Moi Moi, a defensive lineman from California more affectionately known as “Neff,” was lost at sea before his body was later found and identified.
It has all made for a particularly emotional week for everybody who was directly associated with the Cowboys’ program then having to experience the same painful emotions now. A visibly shaken Garrett Crall said it’s difficult for him to even put it into words.
“It’s sad because I never got a chance to know him, but I know some of the guys on our team did,” UW’s veteran defensive end said. “I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about.
“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’ve loved to have been able to be that guy’s teammate and be able to help him these six months I would’ve been here with him.”
Crall said he hopes Evans’ family will attend a UW game this fall so that he can connect with them in person. He also has a message for them.
“I just pray for his family and just hope they know once you’re a Cowboy, you’re always a Cowboy. You’re always in our family,” Crall said. “I hope his family knows from our team and the whole state, they’ll always be one of us.”
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.