DeKALB – Shane Evans remembers the first Division I letter he received.
It was at the end of his freshman year at Prairie Ridge, and the letter was from the University of Arkansas.
As Evans’ career as an offensive tackle carried on, the letters and offers kept rolling in. Evans started every game during his four years at Prairie Ridge, winning a Class 6A state championship in 2011. He’s the only four-year starter in school history.
Plenty of offers came in, including ones from Northern Illinois, Indiana, Cincinnati, Toledo, Boise State, Ball State and Western Michigan.
In October, Evans verbally committed to NIU. And before the first semester of his senior year, he made the decision to take an extra class so he had the option of graduating a semester early. He actually thought about it during his freshman year.
Evans already is enrolled at NIU and working out on campus, the only one in his class to do so.
“The way I looked at it, senior year, a lot of kids are taking easy classes toward the end of the year,” Evans said. “So why waste an extra semester doing nothing when I can be up here taking harder classes, getting closer to my major and working out for my college program.”
It’s the second straight season Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp has had a player enroll early at NIU. Last season, linebacker Sean Folliard left for DeKalb in January, participated in spring drills and contributed as a freshman, finishing the year with 20 tackles and two tackles for a loss.
Schremp has gotten to know NIU’s coaching staff well and said the Huskies fit everything Evans was looking for.
“Coach [Kevin] Kane and I were kind of buddies on texting and calls back and forth and voice messages quite a bit over the past couple years,” Schremp said. “Kevin Kane recruited both Shane and Sean, got to know him pretty well. It’s been interesting dealing with the hundreds of coaches who have called and emailed.”
Evans also sought Folliard’s advice on coming to campus early.
“He said it was the best thing for him. He said he really got around the guys, got to meet every one of them,” Evans said. “Once summer rolled around and all the other freshmen were rolling in, he had a leg up and he was in shape, stronger and ready, and already in the system basically.”