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Undrafted defensive end Maurice Evans hopes detour drove him to destiny with New York Giants


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On Christmas Eve 1988, Brenda Evans stood on a rainy Brooklyn sidewalk and asked God what would happen to her children.

 

That afternoon, she and her husband, Michael, were walking home from the subway, arms full of gifts, when he was stabbed to death two blocks from their East New York home. At 29, holding a job as a clerical worker for the city's department of education, Brenda was left as the sole caregiver of their three children, the youngest of whom, Maurice, was just four months old.

 

"Actually, I guess God is merciful, because he knew one of us had to stay around and see these kids through," Brenda Evans said. "Maurice is the last one. I had to see him get to what he wanted to do."

 

What Maurice Evans has wanted to do, since his older brother signed him up for freshman football at Christ the King High School in Queens, is play in the NFL. The 6-2, 264-pound defensive end, who signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent and impressed at this weekend's rookie minicamp, has that opportunity now -- though it came by different means than expected.

 

Once a standout sophomore pass rusher at Penn State -- he was eighth in the nation with 12 1/2 sacks in 2007 -- Evans' junior season took a detour when a charge for possession of a small amount of marijuana resulted in a three-game suspension.

 

He never regained his dominant sophomore form but decided nonetheless to enter the draft a year early, following the three-year plan laid out when top national programs, including USC and Notre Dame, recruited him out of high school. Two weeks ago, Evans watched from Brooklyn as seven rounds of picks passed him by -- and college teammate Aaron Maybin, who took Evans' starting job when he was suspended, was drafted No. 11 overall by Buffalo.

 

"It could be -- you never know the way things turn out," Evans said, when asked if he thought he could have been in Maybin's position. "A first-round pick still has to earn a spot the way a person in my spot would."

 

If Evans sounds like he doesn't have any regrets, it's because he doesn't. Brenda Evans made sure that has never been a part of the family's fabric, starting from that bleak 1988 Christmas when she resolved to strongly hold her home together.

 

She brought her family to counseling sessions through the Crime Victims Board and later helped Maurice -- when he was old enough to understand -- create memories of his father with photographs and stories. When her oldest child, daughter Mildred, reached high school, Brenda Evans enrolled in graduate classes at Brooklyn College two nights a week to work toward her master's degree in special education, and began teaching at a Brooklyn high school to afford tuition at Christ the King.

 

Sons Michael, now 22, and Maurice, now 20, followed their sister to the private Catholic high school. Evans, a basketball player and martial arts black belt, had never played football before, but became a varsity starter as a sophomore. Two years later, despite New York City not being known for its football talent, he was invited to the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

 

"You could see it early on, because he always seems to answer challenges," said Christ the King football coach Kevin Kelly. "He always seems, when he's the underdog, to come out on top."

 

That's the mentality that Evans says he has always carried with him, and has had to rely on especially over the past nine months, when a junior season preceded by preseason All-America honors hit a speed bump in September.

 

Responding to a complaint of loud music, university police came to the apartment he shared with three teammates and found a small amount of marijuana inside. Evans and fellow defensive lineman Abe Koroma were charged with possession, a misdemeanor which later resulted in six months of probation, and suspended from the team for three weeks.

 

Evans buried himself in his Crime, Law and Justice classes in the meantime and sought comfort from the scriptures in the Daily Word, given to him by a teammate's father. When he returned to the field, he started at the bottom of the depth chart, while Maybin held on to the starting spot that was once his.

 

Evans finished the season with three sacks, less than one-quarter of his total the previous fall. When he met with coach Joe Paterno after the Rose Bowl to discuss his future, he said Paterno suggested he stay for his senior season. Evans, though, was ready to test his talent at the next level.

 

"He wanted to get out and give it a try," Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "His junior year wasn't what he thought it could be or we thought it could be. But he had as good a sophomore season as we've had at Penn State."

 

That kind of performance doesn't happen by accident, which is why the Giants -- who can never have too many pass rushers -- targeted Evans, if he was still available after the draft. He was, and he picked the Giants over Buffalo, Detroit and Tampa Bay.

 

Evans didn't expect he'd have to prove himself as an undrafted free agent, but his mother has the strength to believe that each step in her family's life, no matter how painful, has been part of an ordered plan. In her mind, her youngest child signing with his hometown team, which values pass rushers perhaps more than any other franchise in the league, is no exception.

 

"Despite those dark things, those things that have happened to us, big things might be on the horizon for Maurice," she said. "He has to make it. I'm telling you, he will."

 

http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2009/05...end_mauric.html

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This has got to be the toughest position to break into the Giants team. Albeit, I think he's a good one.....kind of a second Kiwi. I hope he makes the team and proves to be one of those incredible future players who went undrafted.

 

I beleive the one who should worry is Eagles 1st round draft pick Jerome McDougle....much more so than Tollefson. But what do I know????

 

This much I know....we are going to have one hell of a defensive line.

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This has got to be the toughest position to break into the Giants team. Albeit, I think he's a good one.....kind of a second Kiwi. I hope he makes the team and proves to be one of those incredible future players who went undrafted.

 

I beleive the one who should worry is Eagles 1st round draft pick Jerome McDougle....much more so than Tollefson. But what do I know????

 

This much I know....we are going to have one hell of a defensive line.

McDougle has no worries--he's already gone.

 

Our line is frightening--so long as we stay healthy. I'm not worried so much about the interior since we've got ridiculous depth at DT--Canty, Robbins, Bernard, Cofield, and Alford--but we're still a little light at DE. Osi tends to go out a couple of games every season, Tuck played injured last year, and has had problems in the past.

 

But assuming we don't have a doomsday IR list this year, we're looking pretty. And if only one of our young linebackers can put Clark on the bench this season, we might have a defense to remember. It would be sweet if Sintim finds a way to start, and Goff manages some playing time from Pierce (not due to injury).

 

(I know, Jack, what about Chase? I like him the same way I liked Nick Griesen--fantastic backup, but barely acceptable starter.)

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The problem with Evans is listed in the article, he's had lots of interest from other teams. So to keep him, The Giants would have to make him part of the squad, because I can't see him wanting to stay on a practice squad if someone else is interested. Either way, he's an interesting case.

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The problem with Evans is listed in the article, he's had lots of interest from other teams. So to keep him, The Giants would have to make him part of the squad, because I can't see him wanting to stay on a practice squad if someone else is interested. Either way, he's an interesting case.

 

Agreed, not only would he not stay on the practice squad he probably wouldn't even make it before getting picked up on waivers. His only hope of making the Giants is to beat out Tollefson.

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Well he wasn't really a backup because of performance. More as a punishment. Can't really compare the two.

 

No I agree, and being backup for Leinart isn't really a knock against Cassel, just hurts his draft status.

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Punishment? what was he Punished for?

Yeah....he was a starter and led the team in sacks as a sophmore. Then one night as he was chillin with a buddy, a neighbor turned them in for playing music to loud. When the cops arrived to tell them to turn down the music, they smelled pot and made a search in which they found like a roach or something. The team put him suspended him for a few games and then put him on the bench to play backup to Aaron Maybin (this years first round draft pick of Buffalo). Prior to his bust, he was playing ahead of Maybin and was becoming a shoo-in as a first round draft pick. Also, he left after his junior year because he was discouraged with his punishment even though Paterno nearly pleaded with him to stay one more year and become a 1st rounder. I'm actually surprised he didn't get drafted in the later rounds or even the mid rounds.

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