Wide receiver Shaquelle Evans is on the cusp of greatness and intends to make UCLA football history this season. The redshirt senior from Inglewood, Calif. plans to break school records and put a Pac-12 Championship on his resume. After completing the 2013 season with eight catches against USC and seven in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Evans figures to be one of the top receivers in the Pac-12 Conference this Fall. In addition to football, Evans also finds time to hang out with his friends and work on his Sociology degree. He is constantly looking for new ways to push himself and his teammates.
Bruin Blue: Tell us a little bit about this season. What is the team mentality going forward?
Shaquelle Evans: We are very excited about the upcoming season based on what we did last year and the work we have put in these last six months. Our team has a lot of confidence right now, and we feel that we have a legitimate shot at winning the Pac-12 and possibly playing for a national championship.
Bruin Blue: Now that you’re an upperclassman, are you looking to take on more of a leadership role this year? What do you want to show the incoming freshmen and underclassmen now that you’re a senior?
Shaquelle Evans: I want to really show them how to work and what it takes to be successful at this level. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Consistency is the key to being successful at this level and that is the main thing I want to teach them. I am more of a lead-by-example type than voicing my opinions. Sometimes I will speak up, if necessary, but mostly I want to show them through my actions how to be a team player.
Bruin Blue: Going forward into the season, what goals are you setting for yourself and what goals are the team setting?
Shaquelle Evans: In terms of individual goals for myself, I want to try and break the school record for catches and yards for a receiver in a season. As a team, we know that we should have won the Pac-12 last year and that anything less than a Pac-12 championship is going to be a failure. Our team goal is to win and be consistent at winning.
Bruin Blue: Now that you’ve played in a bowl game, how does that change your preparation for the season? Is that different from past years? Is there more pressure?
Shaquelle Evans: There are higher expectations than last year and with that comes pressure. But I feel that the way we work as a team and the way we all go about our business revolves around the fact that the pressure won’t make us crumble and we’re strong enough to overcome it. We will rise to the challenge because that is our team mentality. We rise to any challenge, anytime, anywhere. We rise up to it, so I do not feel that pressure is a big factor in our season because we will rise above it and be successful.
Bruin Blue: What football player do you most look up to and why?
Shaquelle Evans: Right now, I look up to Andre Johnson, who plays for the Texans. I like the way he runs routes, how physical he is and how he blocks. That’s how I play. I don’t like to block, but I will do it to help my team. I like him because we have similar playing styles.
Bruin Blue: Who has influenced you the most during your football career on and off the field?
Shaquelle Evans: My mom influences me the most. She always drove me to go hard, do my best, and never quit. I never want to disappoint her and she has been there for me the most.
Bruin Blue: Who challenges you the most in the program? Who really pushes you to do your best?
Shaquelle Evans: Coach [Sal] Alosi, our strength coach, challenges me the most. He is always pushing me and always wanting me to do more and more stuff I think I can’t do. He tells me to do more, and I end up doing it and surprising myself. He pushes me the most in the program.
Bruin Blue: Last year was a great season for you with all of your career bests. Tell us how you prepared for that, what did you do differently and what are your goals now that you have accomplished those?
Shaquelle Evans: 2011 was a tough year, and then we got new coaches who came in and gave us a different mentality of how to work hard and perform. They taught us that we were going to have to push ourselves past our limits. We did a lot of cone drills and fine-tuning our routes. Plus, having Coach [Eric] Yarber helped out a lot with my success. In terms of moving forward, I’m just going to keep doing what got me here and plus one because you have to do a little more than what you did the previous year. Just a little of everything to make sure that I get those numbers I want.
Bruin Blue: What are your plans after college? Do you plan to stay in football and sports?
Shaquelle Evans: I definitely plan to stay in sports. I am going to pursue an NFL career after this season, since this is my last year. After that is done, I would like to be a coach or a sports analyst in football. I want to stay involved after my career is over.
Published in the September issue of Bruin Blue