Coach Speak: Shaun McDowell On Evan Fairs

Maryland secured a commitment from Foster (Richmond, Texas) receiver Evan Fairs July 31, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Shaun McDowell, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-4, 182-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session with McDowell below:

Maryland secured a commitment from Foster (Richmond, Texas) receiver Evan Fairs July 31, and afterwards we spoke to his head coach, Shaun McDowell, to gain more insight into the 6-foot-4, 182-pounder. Check out our question-and-answer session with McDowell below:

Terrapin Times: Coach, I know Evan has been saying he was going to commit to Maryland on his visit. Is that the impression you got? Did you think he was going to commit July 31?

Shaun McDowell: I pretty much did; I had a feeling he’d commit. He’s been working hard all summer, and I’ve pretty much been with him every day, between workouts, 7-on-7 and things like that. So we’ve talked quite a bit and he said he wanted to go on the visit and see what Maryland was like. He was always really excited about Maryland, because it’s a Big Ten offer and is in a power-five offer. He definitely has Big Ten, power-five talent, no doubt in my mind.

But just talking to Evan, he’s always talked highly of them and about the competition in the Big Ten. It’s a growing program, it’s exciting and it’s on the rise. So I kind of knew he would commit.

So now I’m just extremely excited for Evan and his family. It’s a great day for Evan and Foster High School.

TT: Did you get a chance to talk to Evan yet, or are you going to catch him when he gets back to Texas?

SM: No, actually, I’m just finding out he committed by looking at Twitter (laughs). It’s crazy, we’re literally just seeing this come across the board. I imagine he’ll call me soon. But I’m excited for him; I know Evan has a lot of people to talk to and call.

TT: Can you break down Evan’s game for us? What does he bring to the table as a receiver?

SM: First of all he brings size. He’s 6-4, a legit 6-4, and he’s about 180, 190 pounds. He’s a smooth route runner and a glider. And he’s a basketball player, so he understands space, and he’s very physical when he’s running his routes and when he’s blocking. He gets off cornerbacks like he’s boxing out in basketball. And he’s gotten a lot stronger each year he’s been here. He started on varsity as a sophomore and he’s gotten so much stronger since then.

Evan also has soft hands and excellent form, and he knows what to do when he gets the ball in his hands. But he’s only going to get better; his best football is ahead of him. He’s a big, physical wide receiver and he’s a big target for the quarterback.

TT: What does Evan have to do to get even better, to get ready for Big Ten play?

SM: Well, he’s got to work on that speed. He definitely has to work on that. You know, Evan plays three sports; he’s a three-sport guy. He plays football, basketball and runs track. So when he commits to just football he’s going to be a monster. He’s strong and in the weight room, but he’s not as strong as he can be because he plays so many sports. So when he gets up to Maryland, and he’s in that lifting program, we’re talking Calvin Johnson. We’re talking big, physical guy who can go up and get it.

And he’s got that NFL pedigree in him too. You know, Evan’s dad played for the Oilers and Falcons, so he’s got the bloodlines for sure. Plus his sister is an All-American volleyball player at Louisville and now Florida. So Evan comes form a super-athletic family, and he’s mature beyond his years.

TT: You said Calvin Johnson. We’re not saying he’s actually going to be like Calvin Johnson, right? (laughs)

SM: Have ya’ll been doing that up there yet? (laughs). Yeah, he’s baby Calvin Johnson. He’s that big, physical, long receiver. He’s going to block out the sun, and he’s only going to get taller and bigger muscle-wise.

TT:I know one thing about recruiting kids 1,500 miles away is you’re never sure they’re going to take to the East Coast. But Evan seems like someone who isn’t going to have a problem leaving Texas. True?

SM: No, not at all. It’s a good deal for him. Evan, living with his dad, he’s been a traveler all his life. It’s really not that big of a deal for him. Plus he wanted to play in a bigger atmosphere, and what’s bigger than Maryland in the Big Ten. That was his biggest offer, and I know he can play there, he knows he can play there, and he wants to bring a national championship to Maryland.

TT: Why do you think some of those other Texas schools and power-five schools didn’t offer Evan?

SM: One thing is here in Texas, and especially the Houston area, we are saturated with receivers. And we’re a little more balanced offensively and spread the ball around a lot. We try to make it 50-50 run-pass, so Evan isn’t going to have the outstanding stats. But a lot of it is the saturation of the wide receiver here. But, honestly, now I think he’s going to blow up. I think he’s going to get a lot of looks this season.

And another thing is Evan didn’t go to a lot of camps as a sophomore and only a few this year. That’s a lot of it; he didn’t go to those camps. He went from football to basketball to track and then workouts, and didn’t get out as much. But he’s in a good spot now at Maryland.

TT: Coming in as the son of an NFL receiver, obviously Evan had that name cache. But was there a moment you can remember where you said, ‘OK, Evan’s a big-time receiver and can play D-I ball?’

SM: Yeah, well first of all, about his dad. Eric Fairs was a linebacker in college and the NFL, and is a huge guy. He played at Memphis, the Oilers and Falcons and he was a huge, huge guy. So Evan was going to be big, we always knew that.

But when I first saw the talent was after his sophomore year, the way his routes were and creating separation with his speed, that’s when I saw him take it to another level.

Then he really had a coming out party in Week 2 last year where he caught two bomb touchdown passes of 75-yards plus. The kid just exploded and had over 150 yards and two scores; the defense had no answer for him. We always knew he was talented, but in that game he was like, ‘OK, I’m here now.’ If you check it out, you’ll see those catches on the highlight film. You’re like, ‘Holy moly, this kid can play.’ (laughs).

TT: What’s Evan’s personality like? What’s he like around his teammates? Is he another of those prima donna receivers? (laughs)

SM: Oh no sir. No sir. He always has a smile on his face and he likes to have fun, but he knows when to be serious. I’ve never seen Evan get in an argument or have drama with other guys. He’s very competitive and guys like to challenge him, and Evan is always down for that, but he’s not a prima donna.

Evan has never complained about a lack of catching balls or targets. He takes pride in his blocking and has a great work ethic, and it’s really transformed our team. HE’s a captain and a three-year starter for us. Where Evan goes, we go.

TT: A little about Coach Keenan McCardell here. How was he in this recruiting process with Evan?

SM: Coach McCardell has been great. He’s been very open about the whole process and what’s been going on, including with me and Evan’s parents. What Coach McCardell sees, he sees things differently then some other coaches that come down here. A lot of assistants will come and they’ll look at all the guys with Baylor offers, Texas offers, TAMU offers, places like that. But Coach McCardell can see the diamonds in the rough. He saw the potential in Evan, and he believes he’ll fit in with what Maryland does offensively.

But, yeah, Coach McCardell has been great. He lives in the Houston area, he understands the culture down here, and it’s always cool to talk to a former All Pro receiver. I definitely enjoyed watching him play over the years.

TT: Yeah, Evan was telling me McCardell and his dad hit it off.

SM: Yes sir, I can believe it. Actually, McCardell played for the Jaguars and I’m a Texans fan, so I always give him crap when he comes by (laughs). I told him the reason he had to retire was because he couldn’t beat the Texans.

But, hey, Coach McCardell is very knowledgeable, he’s a fun-loving guy and he has a great rapport with the kids. The kids love him.

TT: Last question, Coach. What do you think Evan’s potential is at Maryland? What do you think he can accomplish there?

SM: Oh Evan, I feel like his best football is ahead of him. I can see him being an All-American in the Big Ten at Maryland. I think he’s that good to be honest with you.

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