Evans Wants to Make Father Proud

February 4 will be a monumental day in the Evans household. Irvington (NJ) safety Josh Evans will sign a National Letter of Intent to play college football at a premiere university on that day and start the process that wasn't yet finished by older brother James Michael Evans. Josh is visiting the University of Florida Thursday through Saturday for one of the last pieces of the signing process.

With signing day less than two weeks away, Josh Evans will be on campus at the University of Florida late Thursday evening to begin his official visit. The fact that college football's national champions have come calling with a scholarship offer for Evans is something he knows his father, James is excited about. There is nothing more that Josh would like to do for his dad than to get his degree.

"I want to make my father proud," Josh said by phone late Wednesday night. "I have an older brother that played at the University Buffalo and did everything he was supposed to do. Then my mother passed away while he was in college and kind of messed his head up."

Josh's brother James Michael Evans was a freshman star cornerback at Buffalo before his mother passed away and the misery that comes along with grief drove him from concentrating on anything. An eventual transfer to Marshall yielded nothing for a his football career.

Now, five years later, Josh has a chance to finish something his brother started. Evans has offers from both teams that played in the BCS Championship and Florida and Oklahoma would love to have him.

"My father had high hopes for my brother of going to the NFL to make an opening easier for me. Even if I don't go to the NFL, I just want to go on to college and get a degree, that will make him happy. I just want to go there and become a man and put a smile on his face. It's not a money issue, it's just a great opportunity and to say I made it. Not everyone can say they got an offer from the number one and two schools. Not everyone can leave New Jersey."

His journey to a brighter future continues Thursday as he ventures to Gainesville for a a couple of days of getting to know the University of Florida. He has already visited Purdue and Oklahoma. He will visit Pittsburgh next weekend. His plane leaves for Florida Thursday night. He has to come a day early because of a track meet he has on Sunday.

"I am leaving around 7:00 and will be in Gainesville around 9:30," he said. "I am looking to have a great time. I have been down there before on an unofficial. I just want to see more of the inter-cultural life on campus and see what it is like in Gainesville. This summer I went down there with my aunt on a summer vacation to Florida and Miami. Everything was smooth back then, too. I watched them at a couple of practices. I got to meet with Urban Meyer, Coach Heater, and Coach Addazio, it was great."

Heater is Florida's assistant defensive coordinator and also coaches the safeties. He has taken on Evan's recruitment himself.

"Chuck Heater is recruiting me now," Evans said. "He is a great person, he is always talking to me and telling me what is going on. He told me I could come in and make an impact. There are never guarantees from him, but he says from watching my film I could come in and make a big impression. He is down and on my level and everything is good.

It really is no accident why Florida and Evans have made a connection. As it turns out, Evans has a cousin that is a Track and Field All-American at Florida. LaMarr Davis is a middle distance runner on Florida Track squad and is someone Evans is already familiar with on the Gator campus. Of course the fact that he is a dynamic athlete on the football field meant that the university of Florida was bound to find him and have interest.

"They got in the mix when they saw my highlight and Urban Meyer talked to my coach," Evans said. "He said he only watched two plays and told my coach they had to get this guy. My coach told me that Florida was going to offer me. I also have a cousin down there at Florida that is an All-American in track and have more family down in Savannah and more in Florida. Everything is cool down there in Florida it's a nice little spot."

He has had two previous official visits and will have one more after his trip to Florida. The plan is to take all four and then figure everything out.

"I took my first official visit to Purdue because we have two former players here that are at Purdue now," he said. "Then I took an official to Oklahoma to see what it is like at OU. Now I am going to Florida and I know it is going to be crazy down there because they just won the national championship. After this visit and the one next week to Pitt I will have a better idea of where I want to go."

Evans has a pretty good relationship with the coaching staff at Purdue. Head Coach Danny Hope and secondary coach Lou Anarumo have been on him for a long time.

"Coach A and Coach Hope are two great people," he said. "My dad and I had a nice long talk with both. I am not saying it is guaranteed, but I could come up there and start right away. My former teammates didn't pressure me they knew that Florida was number one, but they told me I should take my visits. That is what kind of stood out, I wanted to see what they liked while they have been out there."

Evans didn't have a lot to say about Oklahoma except they did recognize him early, but really stepped up the recruiting on him later in the game.

"They were on me a little early, but not much," he said about Oklahoma. "Now everything is good, and I don't get caught up in the recruiting stuff. I just had to go out there and see what was up with OU myself."

Pittsburgh Head Coach Dave Wannstedt has also made an impression on the Evans family. Evans also has another former teammate telling how he likes it as a Panther.

"Actually, Wannstedt came by my house and he and my father had a great talk," Evans said. "During the recruiting process, they were always there too. I spoke to another former teammate and he loves it there, too. So I just know I want to go up there for a visit."

The last two visits are big and the Gators being the top program in the country is certainly something to take notice of, but Evans has to make his decision based on everything he sees from the four schools above.

"It is going to come down to those four schools," he said. "Florida is number one and it is great to be offered by the number one school. I can't just go there because they won a national championship. I am not taking anything away away from Florida, Chuck Heater, and Urban Meyer. It is a great program...hands down they are the best program in the country. By me visiting and going down there, my decision is going to be based on me talking to my father and my family about where I am going.

It's going to come down to knowing that I have to be there for four years. I want to know that I can live there. I want to know that after the season I don't have to rush home because I don't like it there. I want to be able to play football and be happy after football season. All schools are basically good opportunity wise and academically wise. I want to see different places and see the people that are around me.

I kind of want to have fun a little bit. I'm not talking about just going out and acting crazy, but being able to have a little fun. I just want to go there and make a life and get a degree and make my family proud.

Josh Evans brother James Michael will likely try out for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the next training camp. In the meantime, Josh is in the process of living the dream of his older brother and his father...a process that seems destined to fill it's promise.

Fightin Gators Top Stories