McEvoy hopes to start NJ pipeline to USC

Over the next few weeks, GamecockAnthem will be bringing you a series of in-depth interviews with Carolina's incoming 2011 signees. In the first installment of this can't-miss series, Anthem talks one-on-one with highly touted QB signee Tanner McEvoy, who hopes that he and fellow New Jersey products Sheldon Royster and Damiere Byrd have started a pipeline for USC in recruiting the Garden State.

Interview with 2011 quarterback signee Tanner McEvoy: profile: Tanner McEvoy

Question: When did you first start playing football, and when exactly did you realize that you wanted to pursue a future in football?

McEvoy: I started playing when I was really young. We had flag football when I was growing up, and I started playing tackle football in second grade. I always loved it once I started playing. I kind of always knew that's what I wanted to play all my life.

Question: This past year was your first year playing quarterback in high school. Before that you were a very talented wide receiver. How did that whole transition take place?

McEvoy: We had a new coach come in that was a quarterbacks coach. I had always been kind of practicing quarterback, so I kind of knew some things. He came in as the new coach, and he did a great job teaching me stuff and working me out in the offseason to get me ready. I started playing QB my senior year, and I really liked it so I stuck with it.

Question: That obviously worked out very well for you. Did you ever imagine that it would work out that well, where you'd have major colleges coming after you to play that position at the next level?

McEvoy: That's what I worked so hard for, and I expected it. You've got to kind of expect things to happen that way. If you want things to happen, you've got to work for it, and that's what I did. That goal became reality.

Question: How would you describe yourself as a quarterback? What all do you bring to the table?

McEvoy: I'm 6-6 and about 210 (pounds) right now. I'm trying to get my weight up. I've played receiver, and I played running back growing up. I'm a pretty athletic kid. I can run it, and I can throw it. I have a real strong arm. I just need to work on my footwork and the motion stuff. I need to get down all the little things and just do the best that I can. I love competing. You've got to do what you've got to do to win.

Question: Is there any player that you tend to model your game after on the football field?

McEvoy: People have asked me that question, and I haven't really had an answer. It's kind of a combination of a lot of different players. I don't really know of one person to call it.

Question: A lot of recruits say that going through the recruiting process is a once in a lifetime experience. Looking back, what stands out to you about being such a highly recruited prospect?

McEvoy: It's fun to get phone calls and mail and a whole bunch of friend requests (on social media networks). It's kind of like a little bit of celebrity you have going during your high school career. No one from my school has been as highly recruited as I was, so it was fun to enjoy that part of the experience.

Question: You obviously ended up signing with South Carolina, but what were the main schools that you were focused on down the stretch of your recruitment?

McEvoy: The main schools were South Carolina, North Carolina, Michigan, Rutgers, and Miami.

Question: What ultimately made you decide to choose South Carolina?

McEvoy: I took an official visit to all of the schools I mentioned, except for Michigan. I really liked South Carolina, I like where they're headed, and coach Mangus and I have a really good relationship. They look like the future is very bright, and it seemed like a perfect match.

Question: Can you talk about your relationship with Coach G.A. Mangus, especially with him being your position coach at South Carolina?

McEvoy: He was the first one to offer me as a quarterback. He's a great guy. We've had multiple conversations, and we really get along. We seem to have matching personalities, and I look forward to him coaching me on the field.

Question: Was it a difficult decision to leave your home state of New Jersey when deciding on where to play your college football?

McEvoy: Yeah, I grew up in New Jersey all of my life. I've got a lot of friends up here, I've got a lot of friends at Rutgers. I know a lot of kids going there this year from my area. It was tough to leave my state, but it was in my best interest and it was what I wanted to do to go down to South Carolina and play ball.

Question: Are you friends with Sheldon Royster and Damiere Byrd, two highly recruited guys from your state who also signed with South Carolina this year?

McEvoy: Yeah, actually we're going to be roommates this year. I played Sheldon last year, and I've played Damiere in seven-on-seven. That was fun, and it's great to have those guys coming to South Carolina.

Question: What do you think about the potential for South Carolina to make a pipeline in recruiting the state of New Jersey, recruiting kids who might want to go down south to play their college football? Do you think more recruits from New Jersey might follow the trend that you, Sheldon, and Damiere have started this year?

McEvoy: Hopefully, I know there's a few great young guys at Don Bosco (Elijah Shumate, Darius Hamilton, Yuri Wright) and some of the other schools around here. They're all really good players, and they're all looking at South Carolina. We're trying to talk with them about coming down. I hope (a pipeline) does start. I hope we can start a little trend here, because we have a lot of great players in the state.

Question: Besides Sheldon and Damiere, have you gotten to know any of the other Gamecock signees well through the recruiting process?

McEvoy: Yeah, I've met a few of them at the spring game. I went down there, and I talked to a lot of them. Everybody seems really nice, and I think we're all going to click well once we get down there on campus.

Question: Is it exciting for you to know that you'll be coming into Carolina in the same class as the nation's number one player, Jadeveon Clowney?

McEvoy: Definitely. It's fun to hear everybody ask, ‘Where are you going to school?' South Carolina - then the next question is, ‘Do you know Jadeveon Clowney?' That's usually how it goes (laughs). It's going to be awesome to play with him, and I'm glad he's not on the other team. I'm glad he can't tackle the quarterback in practice (laughs).

Question: What have the South Carolina coaches told you about the possibility of early playing time?

McEvoy: They said I'll have a chance to play and not redshirt. I'm going to go down there and really try my hardest, and I'll do what I have to do to get on the field. You never really know until you get down there, figure everything out, and see what things look like. I'll find out soon.

Question: What would you say the potential of the Gamecock offense is this year with so much returning talent, including Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery?

McEvoy: They can do anything. Once they figure out if (Stephen) Garcia's going to come back and if Connor (Shaw) is going to play, they have tons of talent around everywhere. Lattimore is going to be great. Jeffery is great. A couple of their receivers are great, so hopefully we'll win it all this year.

Question: When do you plan to enroll this summer?

McEvoy: I'll be down there in about twelve days for the first session (of summer classes).

Question: What jersey number will you be wearing at USC?

McEvoy: I'll wear number 10.

Question: What kind of personal goals have you set for yourself in your first year at Carolina?

McEvoy: Obviously, I would just like to play, to get out there and make the team better. I'll do whatever I can do to help. I'll see what I can do to get out there on the field and hopefully make some plays.

Question: Has anyone told you what to expect with Coach Craig Fitzgerald's strength and conditioning program when you get to Carolina?

McEvoy: I haven't heard too much about it, but they sent me up a sheet to help me prepare for that. I've talked with Coach Fitz a few times, and I actually played his high school last year. We talked about that, and he was making fun with me about that. We actually beat them (laughs). But I've heard he's a very intense guy, and he likes to get after it in the weight room. That's fine by me.

Question: There's a strong feeling down in South Carolina that the Gamecocks are on the verge of competing for the school's first ever SEC Championship and possibly even a national championship. How exciting is it for you to be joining the USC program now and to have the chance to do something that has never been done before?

McEvoy: It's great, it's part of the reason why I chose South Carolina. I want to get down there and get that SEC Championship. We almost got it last year, but we lost in the championship. Auburn was great last year though, so we've got to come back and be better. I can't wait to get down there.

Question: Is there a certain game on USC's 2011 schedule that you look at and say, I can't wait to play those guys?

McEvoy: You know, I can go over the schedule and say that about a couple of schools. I know I'm really looking forward to the Georgia game, and then the first big home game. I've actually never been to a game at South Carolina so I'm sure that's going to be an amazing experience when I see my first game there. Obviously the Clemson game at the end of the year is going to be fun too. Those are a few games that I'm really looking forward to.

Question: Being from out of state, have you heard much about the intensity of the rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson?

McEvoy: Yeah, I've been told. I have a couple of (orange) shirts that my mom is not going to let me bring down just because of the color of them (laughs). I've heard it's a very intense rivalry, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that.

Question: Do you have any message that you'd like to pass on to Gamecock fans before you officially arrive on campus in a couple of weeks?

McEvoy: Just that I'm coming down there with every intention of helping the team out, and hopefully we can win the SEC Championship this year with the rest of my recruiting class and everybody else returning on the team.

Just for fun…

Favorite musician? The Dave Matthews Band

Favorite food? Chicken parmesan

Favorite pro football team? Baltimore Ravens

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