Soon after Evan Fairs arrived in College Park, Md., July 29, following a 1,300-mile flight from Texas, the Foster (Richmond, Texas) wideout knew he’d found his home for the next few years. It just took him a few extra hours longer than originally expected to let everyone else know.
“Maryland was everything I thought it would be and more, so I’m excited to say I’m going to be a Terp,” said Fairs, who chose Maryland July 31 over offers from New Mexico, Sam Houston and Texas State. “I was going to wait a few days, but right before we left campus, me and my dad drove by Maryland again and we decided, 'Why wait?' We talked it over and we decided Maryland was the place.
"So I called [head coach Randy] Edsall and told him I’d love to part of the program, and he said he was excited to have me. I just loved everything the school was about – the coaches, the campus, the academics, everything. It’s a chance for me to play major football in the Big Ten, which is one of the best conferences out there. So I’m really happy to be a Terp."
Fairs, a 6-foot-2, 182-pound rising senior, had been singing the University of Maryland’s praises ever since receiving an offer May 8. He and area recruiter Keenan McCardell had maintained consistent communication since then, UMD’s receivers’ coach thoroughly impressing the Texas wideout.
“Coach McCardell is the coach I had the best relationship with. He’s been great,” said Fairs, who was accompanied by his father, former NFL receiver Eric Fairs, on the visit. “When we talk, it’s like he’s real; he tells it like it is. He’s going to tell you what you need to work on, what you need to do to get better. But he also cares about you, asks how you’re doing, and he’s big into family.
“And on the visit, [McCardell] was great. He was answering all me and my dad’s questions, telling us all about Maryland’s history and explaining all kinds of things. My dad really hit it off with [McCardell[ too. They played against each other in the NFL, so they were going back and forth about their playing days and people they knew, saying how it was a small world. My dad has a really good relationship with Coach McCardell too.
“But [McCardell] talked about what it’s like there in the program, and also how I’d be used. We went over what’s expected of me, and then we watched film breaking down my game. Coach McCardell, he played in the League for a long time, and he knows what he’s talking about. He’s going to teach me a lot.”
Speaking of his game, Fairs is slotted to play the “X” receiver spot in Maryland’s offense. He said McCardell likes him on the outside, where Fairs’ length, speed and ability to win one-on-one battles with cornerbacks would be an asset.
“Coach McCardell thinks I can do big things in the offense, and he thinks I can be really successful there,” Fairs said. “I’m excited, because he’s a great coach and also my role there is similar to what I do now at Foster. I think I can come in and not miss a beat.
“I feel like I’m a bigger receiver who can get down the field and make plays, so I think I can do really well in Maryland’s offense. I have to keep working on my speed and my route running, but I think after a couple years just learning the system and working with Coach McCardell I’ll be ready.”
While on the subject of receivers, Fairs is well aware current Minnesota Vikings rookie Stefon Diggs starred at UMD. It’s one of the initial reasons the Texas wideout was immediately drawn to the Terps.
“Diggs came out of Maryland, so I know Coach McCardell and those guys can produce great receivers,” said Fairs, who, at the behest of his father, has been playing football for as long as he can remember. “It’s an exciting opportunity for me to learn and develop. [The Terps] have a big-time quarterback coming in to, Dwayne Haskins, so it’s going to be awesome catching passes from him.”
There was plenty Fairs liked about Maryland prior to his July 29-31 visit to College Park. But it was said trip that sold him on the school. Prior to setting foot on campus, he admitted he wasn’t sure he’d like Maryland or fit in on the East Coast.
“I didn’t really know a lot about Maryland, how it looked or felt, but it was good [to visit]. I’m comfortable here,” Fairs said. “It was an awesome time. It definitely changed my perspective of Maryland. I thought it would be different, but this changed my perspective, definitely. The campus was beautiful, the buildings were really pretty and I really liked the area too. Maryland is like 15 minutes from D.C., which is great, and there’s a lot to do right on campus too. Everything you could want is right there.”
Fairs commented on the new facility upgrades too. He said McCardell showed him the slideshow of the indoor fields, upgrades weight room and player dorms, and the underground tunnel as well.
“Those [facility upgrades] are going to be great. They should be ready by the time I get there,” Fairs said. “That looks really nice, and it’s really exciting. I can’t wait to use all that when I get here.”
Maryland’s educational opportunities won Fairs over too. He already had an idea of what Maryland football was about before arriving July 29, but he wasn’t fully aware of UMD’s academic reputation. It’s safe to say he is now, however.
“Coach Edsall is big into academics, and that was really impressive to my dad and me too,” Fairs said. “The coaches there make sure you get your work done, and that really stood out to me. And it’s a great degree there and there’s a lot of opportunities for jobs and internships after football in D.C. I want to major in business, and Maryland has a great program for that.”
Fairs actually didn’t have a chance to meet Edsall in person July 29-31. The Terps’ headman was in Chicago for Big Ten media day and wasn’t on campus to have a sit-down with the receiver and his father. But the family did connect with Edsall during a FaceTime call July 28.
“I liked Coach Edsall; he answered all our questions. He’s real up front and straight up with you. He was telling me what you have to live up to at Maryland, and was very honest,” Fairs said. “Then he was telling me some things about Maryland too and what to expect there. It was pretty cool. He told me they need a longer receiver like me and he thinks I can contribute there, definitely.”
Fairs didn’t save his staff praise for just McCardell and Edsall either. He had a chance to speak to assistants Darrell Perkins, Greg Studrawa and Terry Richardson July 30, mentioning how they were “really great to talk to.”
“Me and my dad really liked the coaches, because of how straightforward and honest they all were. They’re really cool people, but they get down to business and make sure their players are on point,” Fairs said. “It’s very structured and I like that.”
Not even the distance from home could deter the adventurous Fairs. Time and again, the Texas wideout has said he wouldn’t mind leaving the Lone Star State for college.
“A lot of guys in Texas dream of playing in Texas, but I like getting out and trying new things,” Fairs said. “I like the East Coast, and I like it at Maryland. I think I’m going to fit in well out here. Plus I have some aunts and uncles [on the East Coast], so that’s a good thing too.”
With that, Fairs became Maryland's second wide receiver pledge, joining D.J. Turner (DeMatha/Hyattsville, Md.). Right before boarding the plane back to Texas from BWI Airport, he called Edsall, making sure his spot was secured before leaving the 410. The two chatted for a few minutes, and then Edsall asked the Texas receiver the question he’d been waiting to hear for two days.
“He asked me if I was ready to be a Terp,” Fairs said. “And I told him, ‘Yes sir. I’m in, absolutely.’ I’m definitely ready and excited to spend the next part of my career at Maryland. It's the right decision.”
Texas WR Fairs All About UMD, Commits
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