Friday, April 11, 2014

Get To Know A Future Pro- Shaquelle Evans

By the time April rolls around most college seniors are already a month or two into their cruise control descent towards graduation. Senioritis has kicked in, the weather starts getting nicer, the parties become more frequent and the next thing you know its cap and gown season.

But in case you couldn't tell, NFL prospects aren't your typical college seniors. As the school year winds down, the pressure to prepare for the next step in their career starts heating up. I got a chance to talk with Shaquelle Evans, a wide receiver from UCLA and 2014 Senior Bowl participant, about what it’s like to compete at the combine,  what separates him from the rest of a loaded wide receiver class and how he plans on spending his last days in Westwood. 

2MW- For starters I just want to congratulate on you on a great college career and for being named to the Senior Bowl. What was it like practicing and playing alongside guys you played against throughout your career?

Shaq- It was cool just getting to know guys that you've been competing against for the last 3-4 years, and seeing people that you haven't seen in five years from high school days. So it was just a great experience to be out there and a blessing to be one of the players selected.

2MWWhat’s life like as an NFL Draft prospect? Can you take us through a typical day?

ShaqA typical day for me is just wake up, work out, lift some weights and then do some receiver specific drills. On days you don't lift weights just make sure your feet are working right, your routes are right, things like that. After that it's pretty boring because you can only work out for so long during the day so after that there's really nothing to do. Try to buy time with other things like video games, watch TV, just to get through the day. 

2MWYou mention video games so I have to ask, are you looking forward to playing as yourself in Madden?

Shaq- Oh yea definitely, I mean I'm hoping. That's something I've been thinking about ever since I started playing Madden. Hopefully I'll be blessed with the chance to play as myself in the game finally.

2MWI know you're focused on taking the next step in your career, has seniorities been kicking in yet at school? I would imagine it's gotta be getting hard to concentrate on classes. 

Shaq- Oh definitely, it's definitely hard to concentrate. But luckily right now I only have one class and it's not too bad, it's pretty easy. So I'm gonna get through it and after this class I'll be done with school. But seniorities has most definitely kicked in. 

2MWWhat kind of receiver workouts have you been doing to stay in shape? Do you have a set guy who throws to you or is it a rotating cast?

ShaqI've got a guy I work out with to make sure my feet are right at the top of my routes. At first I was running routes with Bryn Renner (quarterback from North Carolina). I've also thrown with Trent Edwards, Nick Foles, Ben Roethlisberger, Blake Bortles, a number of different people. I'm busy staying active as much as possible throughout this process to make sure I'm sharp enough for when my name is called and it's time to hit the field.

2MWI saw you ran a ridiculous 4.32 40 at your Pro Day- were you happy with how that day shaped out?

ShaqYea, I feel like I had a solid day. My main goal was to go out there and run good routes, catch every ball, which I did, and to run a faster 40 than I did at the combine, which I did. I felt like I had a productive day that definitely helped me out.

2MWCan you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to take part in the combine? It must be intense knowing all your drills, reps and runs are being monitored so closely, plus you’re surrounded by guys who are fighting for the same job that you want.

ShaqIt's definitely a different experience. It's a journey, I mean they make it seem like you just get there the day before and you wake up and do your drills. But you're there three days before doing medical testing, all types of tests, psychological tests and then interviews with teams so you're up all day doing all those things. Then you've got to go out there and preform with so much pressure on you. It's definitely an interesting experience. You're out there with guys you're cool with, but you also have to compete against them, so it's a little bittersweet. Definitely a blessing to take part in it because not everyone gets invited. 

2MWHow closely, if at all, do you pay attention to mock drafts?

ShaqI don't really look at anything. I've always been like that. Even when I was at college I didn't look at media reports after practices or games. The only thing I want to see is some pictures maybe (laughs), but that's about it. I don't listen to the noise whether it's good or bad. 

2MWHow are you going to be spending draft day?

Shaq- I've invited some of my family to come around. I mean, I'm not going to be sitting there watching and waiting, but whenever my phone is called that's when I'll be attentive. I feel like if I just sit there and watch then it's going to just make me even more anxious, so I'm just gonna be waiting for that phone call.

2MWOne of your teammates, linebacker Anthony Barr, is another top prospect in this year’s draft- what is your relationship like with him?

Shaq- Me and Anthony are great friends, we've been hanging out pretty much since I've been here. But when we were on the field I used to hate going against him. The only time I would really have to block him was on bubble passes where I had to block the outside linebacker, but I definitely hated doing that because he's so big and strong. There was really nothing I could do, just try to hold my ground for as long as possible, but he's going to get off the block. I tried my best!

But we're great friends and he's a great competitor. I can't wait for him to get picked.

2MWWhat is it about your game that makes you stand out from the rest of the wide receivers in this year’s class? Is there anything that you do differently?

ShaqI think I have a very, very good technique, so I don't have to learn as much technical things that other guys will have to work on. I feel like I'm a detail technician because of the type of coach I had my last two years (Jim Mora). I feel like you begin to take on the personality of your coach and I definitely did that. I also feel like my ability to beat man to man coverage is a huge asset because at the next level although teams might play a lot of zone, it's the players who can make plays against man to man coverage that are at the top of the league.

2MWDo you feel like there are any players in the league who your style of play is similar to?

Shaq- If I had to compare myself to someone I always look to Andre Johnson (Houston Texas WR) because he's a bigger body guy like myself. He's about 220 (pounds), a little bigger than me, I'm about 210-212. We're both physical guys, we're both athletic and great route runners. He can run any route- deep route, medium route, and I think I can do that too. We're also good at blocking in the run game.

2MWI know you’re a Cali boy- so I'm guessing it's going to be either the Raiders, Chargers or 49ers, but who was your team growing up?

ShaqMy favorite team was always the Philadelphia Eagles, but I also rooted for the Chargers. I really liked (Donovan) McNabb when he was at Syracuse, so I just went with the Eagles once he got drafted. Been a fan since '99 but I guess now that reign is ending. I'm not a fan of anybody anymore, just the team I end up playing for!

2MWWhat’s your pre-game routine like? Do you have any superstitions?

Shaq- I like to do the same thing before every game. I've got a set program. I go in the locker room, I get changed and I go sit down for like five minutes, put my cleats on and my warm up. Go outside for 30, 40 minutes, get my feet going. Running routes, catching passes. Then I come in, get my wrists taped, put my pads on, then the jersey, then go in the mirror and make sure everything is straight. Put my towel on and then we head out for the warm ups and its time to go.

2MWDo you play any other sports for fun besides football?

ShaqYes, I love basketball.

2MWWho's going to win the NBA title this year?

ShaqThe OKC Thunder. That's my team cause of (Russell) Westbrook. I love him, that's my favorite player and he's also a Bruin. So I'm always going OKC.

2MWLastly, how often do people point out the fact that you share the same first name as Shaquelle O’Neal?

ShaqPretty much every time I meet someone, so it's normal for me now. I expect to hear it.

2MWWell I appreciate you taking the time to do this interview. Good luck on draft day and I look forward to following your career!

ShaqThank you man, I appreciate you having me.

-fresh (@danye33


  1. Great piece, Fresh.

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