Evan, what is your reaction to this stadium? What is this going to be like as a player this fall?
It's kind of becoming a reality as it comes closer. Just watching the plans laid out and seeing the 3-D visions, it's incredible. I think this is exactly what we need. I don't care what team you throw out on the field, you can't tell me that the old Stanford Stadium was an exciting place to watch a game. I think Stanford has good fans, naturally. I mean, if you go to Maples Pavilion, it is loud. Maples Pavilion is a smaller, more intimate environment. I see our stadium, at least from what I've seen, as a football version of Maples. People are going to be close, and it's going to be exciting. I can't wait.
What does this mean to your validation as a student-athlete? How do you perceive your value as you are given this kind of place to play?
I think everyone on the team would agree that seeing all the plans laid out, and how complex all the decision-making has become - it is amazing to think that we are the team that is about to go into this [stadium]. It shows how important we are. Sometimes the last three years, you may have wondered what this school thinks of football. We have been struggling a little bit. But this shows the direction they want us to go, and where we want to go. How important this is to them as well as it is to us. It's really exciting.
You have played home and away. Do you think that an intimate, loud place like this can be legitimately and honestly the difference between a win and a loss somewhere on the schedule?
Absolutely. I think people - I'm going to be honest - underestimate where we used to play. I'll never forget , we ran out when we played Washington at home, and there must have been 25,000 people in the stands. When you are in a stadium that holds 85,000 people, that is awful. That can bring you down a little bit, regardless of what people think. When the team runs out and sees not too many people in the stands, and it is quiet, that can definitely be a downer. You know, we used to enjoy playing at Oregon. We want to go play at Oregon because of the environment. The idea the that we can look forward to playing at home I think is a huge advantage. We'll be excited to play at home, and the fans will be behind us. I just think that it will bring a whole new atmosphere to Stanford Football, to be honest.
You are a wideout. When you play at Autzen or Husky Stadium, you are spread out wide, and they get really loud, how hard does that make it for you as an offense? Therefore, how much do you think that this new stadium will help your buddies playing on defense?
No matter how confident you are or how seasoned you are, it is intimidating. Especially in a loud stadium, when the game is on the line. I think at Stanford Stadium in the past, people have not felt that intimidation. Every play has been like the other. When we put our crowd noise together - I think that is what happened to Washington [in the January 29 home basketball game]. I mean, they folded in overtime. It got loud in there, with crowd noise, support behind your team and momentum. Momentum is huge in football, and getting behind your team. It's exciting. I can't wait.
If you can think back to your recruiting visit, when you came here and saw the old stadium, what did you think then? If you could go back in a time machine and could be a recruit all over again, given your personality and all that considered, how much more powerful a sell do you think this is as a recruiting tool?
I hosted two recruits this year, and each one of them commented, 'Wow. This stadium is going to be incredible. They're doing this all in eight or nine months.' They just made the comment that how important football must be here to have it done like that. A lot of people want to go to Oregon because of the stadium. A lot of people want to go to USC because of the environment of a home game. That is probably over half of the decision, a lot of times. At Stanford, in the past, it has been something else - the combined academic and athletic reputation of Stanford. Just to add that excitement of people rallying around the football team and home environment, that creates so much momentum for the football team. So much momentum.
For you and Mark [Bradford] and Trent [Edwards], did you feel that you had to make your decision to come to Stanford because the rest of the equation at Stanford is so compelling - in spite of what the home crowd and stadium was?
Maybe a little bit. When deciding to come here, obviously there is the academic prestige and athletic prestige. And yet you looked at the home game environment and stadium environment and telling yourself, 'It's alright, but you are at Stanford.' I think saying 'in spite' is a good way to describe it. But the fact that we don't have to do that anymore, beyond not just recruiting but also for the players that are here, it is just so much more exciting. I think there will be a whole new level of confidence. I will be interested at the end of next year to look back and see the effect that this new stadium had on this team, and the whole environment around here just because of the new stadium. Same fans, same team - just a new stadium. See how it's different.
Speaking of next season, while we have you here, how is your progress going toward your being on the field for the grand opening, home opener, the Oregon game - all of that?
Honestly, if fall camp started tomorrow, I would be going. I'm fine. I'm doing 7-on-7. I'm doing 1-on-1's. I've taken some pretty nasty falls making diving catches and stuff like that. I really don't have a mental barrier, either, as far as running or jumping to go up for a ball. Maybe I had one back in early January when we first started, and I felt a little apprehensive going up to jump for a ball. But I don't have that anymore. There is no pain in the hip. Maybe some lingering back realignment issues from the injury, but I go to a chiropractor and get that figured out. It's nothing serious. I can't ask for anything more. I feel lucky right now. It's not in my head anymore. When we are running, I feel pretty good. The doctors have assured me that thing is not coming out again unless you fall like that again, and the chances of that are not very high. I'm cleared for everything - any kind of cutting. I'm cleared for any kind of volume, really. If we went five days straight, I would be cleared to do that. It would be based on my own discretion and how I feel. If after three days I'm sore, maybe lay off a day. But I haven't had to sit out a day. All the speed movements and everything, I'm cleared to go. We're not hitting yet obviously, but I don't think even that is an issue.
How is the work for the offense in the off-season?
It started in early January. We got started right away. The nice thing this year is that we have more offensive leaders. Mark is a senior. I'll be a redshirt junior - a fourth-year player. We have Nick Frank at fullback, and he's a senior. We have some O-linemen who are seniors. Trent obviously is obviously our offensive captain. I think that is a big difference this year: our key offensive players are our leaders as well. That's a big deal. In the past, it's been that the guys have been young. The offensive guys have not been as forceful and assertive on the field because they have been a little bit younger. Our offense, which has been our weakness at times, is led by our leaders, which is nice. We are looking to be way more disciplined, and just work as hard as we possibly can.
All factors considered, do you think that you are going to have one or two years playing in the new Stanford Stadium?
Your best guess - all things considered.
All things considered, I'm going to play this year, and I'm going to do everything I possibly can to be prepared for this season and to have the best year that I possibly can. The best year that is possible for me. After that, then we will see what happens.
So it's very possible that this will be a one-year hurrah for you in this new stadium?
I never liked when people in the past would make those kinds of comments. I found out last year that in football, you can't make any guarantees. And I'm superstitious. I feel like I'm going to throw myself out there, and anything can happen. I'll just let my hard work take its course, and whatever calls next year and whatever is the best decision for me is what I'm going to do.
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