The 2009 Notre Dame Fighting Irish recruiting class will always be remembered for being the class that brought Manti Te’o to campus. Te’o was highly regarded, and proved it each and every time he was on the field, ending his career playing in the National Championship game as well as being the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.
For every success story like Te’o, where all the time and effort spent by the coaching staff to bring a player and he exceeds like he was suppose to, there are usually one or two stories from the same class like Shaquelle Evans.
Evans was ranked 40th on ESPN’s Top 150 in the class of 2009, as well as being the fourth-ranked receiver. He choose to attend the South Bend, and hoped to give the Irish an instant threat on the outside to team up with then sophomore receiver Michael Floyd, who emerged as the team’s go-to threat at the end of his freshman year.
Evans hit campus with the expectations of early playing time. Early playtime that came far and in between. He only caught six passes and accumulated 61 yards, while only appearing in six games.
When Brian Kelly took over as head coach, his wide-open spread attack seemed to present more opportunities for the upcoming sophomore, in which he still fell behind the depth chart.
Frustrated with not being able to climb up the depth chart, Evans asked for a transfer, in which he ended up with the UCLA Bruins.
Fast forward to last season, Evans became the Bruins leading receiver by catching 60 balls and 877 yards, catching some big passes during the season (71-yards touchdown in the Rose Bowl). This season, Evans is off to an even better start, catching six passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Bruins’ win over the Nevada Wolfpack.
On the big stage against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, he had even more in mind, catching three passes for 97 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown that put the Bruins up for good. He also returned a punt 26 yards to set up the Bruins with good field position.
It’s always a shame to lose a top recruit, but seeing how Evans has developed into a deep threat, it would have been a site to see last year putting T.J. Jones, Tyler Eiffert and DaVaris Daniels out there with Evans. At 6-foot-1 and being a legit college deep threat, this won’t be the last time Irish fans have to watch him succeed, as he will probably be doing it on Sundays.