Daniel Evans: Poised, Ready To Go
RALEIGH The thing NC State football coach Chuck Amato liked most about Daniel Evans’ college debut Saturday night was the poise that the young quarterback exhibited in leading the Wolfpack to a fourth-quarter touchdown against Southern Mississippi.
That’s one of the main reasons the coach elevated the sophomore from Raleigh's Broughton High School to the starting position for Saturday night’s ACC opener against Boston College.
Tuesday afternoon, Evans showed the same kind of poise in his one and only meeting with the media for Saturday’s 8 p.m. game, which will be broadcast on ESPN2, answering questions about his new role on a team where his father, Johnny, was once a star quarterback and punter under Lou Holtz and Bo Rein.
The younger Evans and his twin brother Andrew used to follow their father, who has long been a color commentator on the Wolfpack Radio Network, step-by-step on the NC State sidelines, listening to what he had to say about the players they idolized.
Now, Daniel Evans will be one of the numbers on Johnny's cheat-sheet. Here is what the Wolfpack's new starter under center had to say about having his dream of playing quarterback for his favorite college team come true during a 15-minute conference call with local media.
Q. What do you have to do differently in this game Saturday than you did last week at Southern Miss?
Evans: As far as managing the game, I don’t feel like I have a whole lot more to do, other than what did last week. Just to make quick decisions, get the ball out of my hands and just be a facilitator for the great backs and great receivers we have. Just make good decisions.
Q. How about handling pressure?
Evans: I really don’t feel much pressure from external forces. The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself to want to succeed. Coach Amato isn’t putting any pressure and the guys on the team aren’t putting any pressure on me. Coach Trestman sure has made it clear that I don’t have to do anything outside of my game this week. I am just trying to play constant out there and move the ball down the field. abilities this week.
I have been in pressure situations before obviously not on this level, but on other levels. I don’t have any apprehensions about this week at all.
We are going to have to be patient this week. Boston College keeps guys in front of them. They keep guys in front of them. I don’t have to take shots, or go for it all in one play. I have to be patient. I don’t have to try to force anything. There are going to be places to throw the ball. I am going to have to be patient and let guys make play after they catch the ball.
Q. When you first decided to come to State, what were your expectation?
Evans: I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think I had a chance to play. When I came in, it was the year after Philip graduated. It was pretty much wide open, with Jay (Davis) and Marcus (Stone) coming back. I still had the dream and I still had the hopes that I would be able to get in here and compete and one day do exactly what I am doing right now. I am definitely thankful for the opportunity.
Q. Have you talked to your dad about all of this?
Evans: Yes, I spoke with him last night. I went home and had a little bit of a late dinner with the family. He just said he was proud of me. I was telling him, this is a good start. It is where I want to be, but it is not done. I still have a whole lot of work to do to run the offense and lead the team. He was just saying that I don’t have to do anything outside myself. Obviously, he has been under the pressure of being a Division I quarterback. He knows how to handle the whole mental aspect of that. He was just giving me a couple pointers on that.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the game this week. It’s a moment I have looked for and waited for my whole life. I am just excited about coming to the stadium that I grew up coming to, watching my childhood heroes play and on the same field where my dad played. My first game being on national television against a ranked opponent. I can’t think of a better time.
Q. So there was never anybody else for you besides State?
Evans: My dad has always been on the sidelines while I was growing up. State was always my team growing up. I was always a good fan, coming to every home game growing up. Once I got into high school and I started going through the recruiting process, it was wide open. It wasn’t narrowed down to just NC State, I had other schools I was definitely, seriously considering. At the end, NC State just felt right. I have always been an NC State fan my whole life. I was looking at Wake Forest, Tulane and Louisiana Tech, as the main ones. NC State was the right fit for me and I can’t think of any place I would rather be.
Q. How did playing in a sophisticated offense in high school help you adapt to the college game?
Evans: It’s becoming more and more trendy in high school to open it up and throw it down the field. Obviously, with this offense that Coach Trestman has, we are doing a lot of that, putting the ball up a little bit. I definitely think it has made me a more mature quarterback than other guys who came out of high school throwing the ball 10-12 times. I was throwing the ball 25 to 30 times. I haven’t seen as many sophisticated defense as I am seeing right now, but I definitely ran similar plays to the ones I am running now. Our offense was all about timing when I was in high school. This West Coast stuff is all about timing as well. I came in with a knack about getting the ball out of my hands on time. That is the main thing that helped.
Q. You’ve seen video of your dad play. Do you think there are any similarities between him and you?
Evans: I feel physically that we are nowhere near the same. He was an option quarterback. He was a runner. He was an athlete, running over people, running by people. I am a pocket passer. I can get outside the pocket and make plays when I have to. But I am never going to run over people. I am never going to run past people. I am more of a scramble player. He was definitely more of a physical player than I am.
Q. Would you have come to NC State as a walk-on?
Evans: I doubt I would have walked on. That just goes to show you that God has a plan. I can’t think about what-ifs or what-nots like that. I am just glad I am where I am. I wouldn’t want to conjecture about that.
Q. Why didn’t you get more attention from colleges?
Evans: I think size was the main issue. I put on about 25 pounds since I have been here. I came in at about 170 or 168. I think that is the key issue. We had a solid team and I put up some solid numbers.
Q. What was going through your mind when you got into the game at Southern Miss and the offense started clicking.
Evans: Going in, I had the utmost confidence in myself and in my teammates. I think Coach Trestman did a great job of calling plays for me to get into a rhythm. We did a good job of moving the ball down the field. I wasn’t overly excited when we scored. I played it over in my head a thousand times and it is kind of what I imagined myself doing when I got into that position.
Q. What are you most excited about for Saturday?
Evans: Really just the atmosphere of being out on the field with 60,000 plus fans and thousands more on TV. Being able to compete. I have been a practice player for the last two and a half years. You can only get so much out of that. I love the game and I live being out there practicing. But there is nothing like being out there playing against people who are not on your team. It fires up the competitive spirits. I would think that is the thing I am most looking forward to, getting out there and competing and being in a game.
Q. NC State is the fourth ACC team in the state to make a change because of injuries or ineffectiveness, will you reflect on that?
Evans: That’s a pretty interesting stat. I really have no idea what is going on with that. I don’t think I can comment on it. I know here, Marcus did a great job of leading this team and the coaches felt like there needed to be a little tweak. Hopefully, I can provide that.
Q. Did this whole situation take you by surprise?
Evans: It didn’t really take me by surprise, because that is really not my personality. I felt great about the game. The plane ride back wasn’t very good because we lost to Southern Miss pretty handily. Then coming in and talking to the coaches. I figured I would play. I didn’t know what my role would be. But to find out that I was starting, it didn’t surprise me, but it was definitely a blessing.
Q. Did Coach Trestman tell you or did Coach Amato tell you?
Evans: Coach Trestman told me first and then we went and talked to coach Amato.
Q. When you went to games as a kid did you listen to your dad on the radio?
Evans: Yes, me and my brother were there on the sidelines with him. So we would be right there beside him as he was commentating. It was definitely a neat experience.
Q. Did you ask him what that was like and what he said about you on the radio?
Evans: Yeah, I asked him how his broadcast went and he said that he felt that it helped him in the broadcast because it gives him something to occupy his mind. It keeps him calmer than if he were in the stands living and dying every single play. It is something that will keep him calmed down. He did a great job on the radio broadcast from what I heard.
Q. Yesterday wide receiver John Dunlap said he felt that the offense was close to clicking. What do you think you can do to get the offense to the next step up?
Evans: I feel like I can get the ball out of my hand on time. This West Coast offense is a lot about timing. We ran similar offense in high school. I have a little bit of a knack for getting the ball out of my hand on times. We have great receivers, I need to get the ball to them and let them make plays. We have great backs, I need to get the ball to them. I don’t really have to do anything extraordinary on Saturday.
Q. Were you born and raised to be a quarterback or did your dad have you out punting, since he was a punter in the pros too?
Evans: My first year in football, I played a little offensive line in 10-year-old peewee football. There is no real sized difference at that age. I started playing quarterback in middle school. Dad didn’t really pressure me or my brother to be any specific position. It was more natural for me. It sort of fell into place.
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