Zack Evans literally jumped for joy at the news of his contract extension.
The former Ukrainian dancer and current defensive tackle walked into the Roughriders media room greeting reporters with a wide grin and boot-clicking leap.
And why wouldn’t he be jumping for joy? The 28-year-old just signed a four-year contract that will keep him in the green and white and in his hometown of Regina through the 2022 season.
“I just sat down and said, ‘Hey, I want to be here,’ they said ‘they want me to be here, they want me to retire a Rider, so I’m here forever if they want me,” Evans said.
Evans returned to the Roughriders in February after spending four seasons with the Ottawa Redblacks. That move was not of Evans’ own doing, however. He was picked in the Redblacks expansion draft and is thankful for his time there, but Regina is home and always has been.
Evans was born and raised in the Queen City and entered the league after an impressive junior career with the Regina Thunder.
In 2012, his lifelong dream to play for Roughriders came true when the club brought him in as a territorial junior.
“Stepping on this field and hearing Rihanna sing her song (as part of the Bring ’em Out medley) is just it’s everything to me,” Evans said. “I grew up loving it, I grew up being a Rider fan — wanting to be a Rider.”
But even more importantly, Evans gets to be around his family and raise his son Zander in the same community he grew up loving.
“To be close to home, be in Saskatchewan and to be able to be a part of Saskatchewan culture is just a whole different world out here and to be able to raise Zander as a Saskatchewanian – it’s amazing.”
It also provides his family with long-term stability that doesn’t normally happen in football.
“It’s nice to just know where I”m going to be and not have any worries on if I’m going to be forced to retire, if I’m going to go across the country, stuff like that that I’ve already done.”
Evans started all 18 regular season games for the Roughriders this season collecting 15 defensive tackles and one quarterback sack. He also tallied four fumble recoveries, returning one for a touchdown.
Over seven seasons in the league, he’s made 102 defensive tackles, 23 sacks, recovered five fumbles and caught one interception.
Evans is a two-time Grey Cup champ winning one with the Roughriders in 2013 and another with the Redblacks in 2016.