NFL Draft Prospect Interview – Shaq Evans, WR UCLA

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Sep 14, 2013; Lincoln, NE, USA; UCLA Bruins wide receiver Shaquelle Evans (1) is congratulated after defeating the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. UCLA won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

PS: Who is the best corner you faced?

SE: In my career, I’d have to say the best one I faced was D.J. Hayden.  He went to Houston and he plays for theRaiders now.  That was the best one I faced in my career at UCLA.

PS: When you found out what happened to Hayden (fluke injury to his heart that almost killed him in practice), what was your reaction?

SE: I was like, damn, that’s crazy.  Just shows you it could be taken from you at any moment.  You never know; just a simple play like that, people always ran into each other at practice.  You see that every year all the time.  So, just one in the wrong spot, it can just- and he almost died on that field.  It’s just crazy.  It just shows you that you need to play like every play is your last, because at any moment, it could be.

PS: What’s been the change going from Coach (Rick) Niuheisel to Coach (JimMora?

SE: That change is just the attitude he brought.   He just brought an attitude of winning, accepting nothing less and just surrounding himself with people that felt the same way he did in terms of just not allowing defeat and always being on top of your game and showing what it takes to work hard.  That was the main thing, I think.  He surrounded himself with the right people, because I mean, the head coach can’t do everything.  You need a great supporting staff.  Nobody can do anything by themselves and that’s the main thing.  He brought guys in with the right attitude and it just changed our whole team attitude and our whole program’s attitude.

PS: You grew up a UCLA fan, went to Notre Dame, come home to UCLA.  The common denominator is still USC as a main rival.  Was it satisfying to go out and beat them these past two years?

SE: Oh yea.  I was very pleased with these past two years.  Just beating those guys, hating them my whole life and pretty much being the start of a little run by UCLA is a blessing.  Just thankful it has been able to go that way and Coach Mora coming in and helping us believe that we could be those guys over there because they had our number for a little while.  Just to beat those guys, especially this past year, beating them by 21 at their home, their own house, was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had playing football.

PS: Does Stanford still get to you though?

SE: Oh yea, oh man.  I’ll always hate Stanford.  Always.  They stole that PAC-12.  We were so close.  Ah, man.  Yea, I hate Stanford.

PS: And that’s the one team you never beat in your career.

SE: Nope.  Couldn’t beat Stanford.  The only teams I haven’t beat since I’ve been here are Stanford and Oregon.  But Stanford, three times in less than a year? Man.  Hurts.

PS: How much did it mean for you to go out with a win over Virginia Tech?

SE: Yea, I mean they had a few injuries, but their offense wasn’t going to do anything against our defense, honestly.  They may have held on a little longer if they had their other players, but yea, it felt good going out on top like that, beating them by 30 and getting my first bowl win of my career and just ending it like that with 10 wins in the first time in eight years.  And then just having my final play of my career be a touchdown.  It couldn’t have gone any better.  It’s a blessing to go out like that; last play of the career be a 69 yard touchdown.  That’s crazy.

PS: And with that, Jordan Zumwalt is the guy who took out Logan Thomas.  Is he genuinely psychotic?

SE: Oh yea, he’s the most genuinely psychotic person ever (laughs).  Jordan’s a good dude, he’s a great friend.  Yea, he can be a little crazy sometimes and he knows that, but at the end of the day, he’s a really good friend, a good person; just a little crazy sometimes, that’s all.

PS: What kind of training have you been doing?

SE: I was at Velocity.  It was me and Jordan actually staying in Arizona and working out at Velocity with this guy namedScot Prohaska, who was doing all of our combine training and a guy named Steve Bodanis from Canada was working us out, getting us ready for the combine, things like that.  Now, I’m back at UCLA taking my final class and working out here with my strength coach from UCLA now.  Just to make sure I’m in shape and continue to run routes and catch balls and staying in shape for when I do get picked and I do have to go to minicamp.

PS: Have you made it out to UCLA’s spring practice?

SE: Uh, No.   I mean, I’m here.  I’m on campus.  I was here; I was just not getting up that early to go to practice (laughs).  It was at 7am and I don’t have to get up no more, so nah, I’ll catch it out on Saturday when it starts a little bit later in the morning.

PS: Did you play other sports growing up?

SE: I actually played basketball.  I didn’t really want to pursue the NFL until my sophomore year of high school.  I wanted to be in the NBA up until then, honestly.  I loved basketball.  I mean I still love basketball, but obviously football has taken over, but yea, I used to like basketball more than football.

PS: So, in a perfect world, are you a Russell Westbrook type running the point?

SE: Oh yea.  That’s exactly who I am.  That’s exactly who I am.  That’s why I love Westbrook so much, because he’s the exact player I would have been and he went to UCLA.  So yea, I love Westbrook.  That’s why I love the (Oklahoma City)Thunder also because Westbrook plays for them.

PS: Do you think you could give them a solid 10 minutes off the bench?

SE: Oh, nah, I can’t, nah.  Nah, nah (laughs).  I mean, I don’t think so.

PS: What is it?  Not enough of a shooter? Not a good enough handle?

SE: Yea, I don’t think I could dribble because I haven’t worked on it.  He’d probably steal the ball from me every time if I was dribbling it.  He’ll kill me.  I don’t know.  I’ve never played an NBA player ever, but I’m pretty sure he’ll steal the ball from me every time.

PS: Is there a high school or college assistant that you feel like had the biggest impact on your development?

SE: Oh yea, definitely.  I mean you start off in high school, definitely, because I don’t know where I would be withoutCoach Vick, who was my receivers coach in high school.  And Kali Ali who helping me with the whole recruiting process, getting my tape out there and getting me to go to camps, because I didn’t know about that stuff when I was a sophomore in high school.  I just played my sophomore year and was like, wait til junior year and play again, but he got me involved with camps, getting my tape out there.  Those definitely start there.

And then Coach Yarber, I mean I don’t know where I would be without him.  He made me so much of a better player and a better leader these last two years.  I feel like I’m just very well prepared for the next level and that I’m not a guy that coaches will have to waste a lot of time teaching certain things.  I mean I’ve still got things to learn, but you won’t have to teach me the basic fundamentals or things like that.  You don’t have to waste your time with certain things.  Those are things I’m gonna know and be like, oh, he already knows that, so good, move on.  Next thing.

PS: What are teams getting from Shaq Evans?

SE: I’m a guy who is going to come in, I’m gonna work hard, gonna come in there and try to earn a spot immediately on the team, not just special teams, but someone contributing on offense.  Someone that is going to represent your organization well on and off the field; not a guy you have to worry about getting in trouble.  You’re gonna get a good, clean, hardworking guy that’s gonna come in and represent your organization well.

– In terms of what he brings to the table as a receiver, there is definitely a role for Evans and he has a chance to be one of the earliest contributors of the receivers from this class.  He has a really well, rounded, professional looking skill set and once he adapts to the speed and physicality of the NFL, he could blossom quickly.  Although his NBA dreams may be over, best of luck to Shaq in his pursuit of the NFL.  Here is my breakdown on why I think Shaq could be an early contributor in the NFL and why he appears to be such a finished product.