Notre Dame Receiver Shaquelle Evans Plans to Transfer
"I can only assume that playing time was a factor," coach Brian Kelly said. "This was not a two-way conversation. This was a one-way conversation. ... I'm disappointed."
In Kelly's spread offense, three receivers are utilized, which means six names appear on that two-deep chart. At one wide receiver position, Michael Floyd, arguably Notre Dame's best player, will be backed up by junior John Goodman. On the other side, freshman TJ Jones beat out senior Duval Kamara, who has 75 career receptions. At the slot position, sophomore Theo Riddick, a converted running back, has classmate Roby Toma as an understudy.
Kelly said that Evans, who caught seven passes for 61 yards last season, was "better-suited for the slot position for us ... but he didn't see it that way."
Evans appeared to be a quick study as a freshman, seeing action in each of Notre Dame's first five games. He had been rated the No. 4 wideout in the nation coming out of Inglewood High School and surprised many by selecting the Irish over nearby USC. However, after a career-best game in an Oct. 3 win over Washington in which he had four catches for 34 yards, Evans only appeared in one more contest, the Halloween night win over Washington State. He had no receptions in that game.
"Maybe he just didn't like the hot weather we have here in South Bend," Kelly cracked. "I don't think he saw himself fitting in the offense."
No position has more depth on Kelly's inaugural Irish squad than wide receiver (Charlie Weis left this particular cupboard stocked), but it is a mild surprise that Evans could not find a spot among the top six. Kelly was quickly impressed with Riddick last spring and said he'd have to find a way to get him on the field more, hence the backup tailback's move to the slot receiver spot.
A bigger surprise is the emergence of 5-foot-11 freshman TJ Jones. Notre Dame has started a freshman wideout two of the past three seasons, but that was out of necessity. Kamara started in 2007 and Michael Floyd started in 2008. Each wideout established a freshman record for catches. Floyd had 48, a mark Jones will take aim at beginning with Saturday's opener against Purdue.
Like junior Deion Walker, who stands 6-foot-3, Evans' athletic ability did not translate into substantial playing time. Still, in Kelly's spread offense, where a high volume of plays is put at a premium, Evans might not have languished for long. After all, he was touted as the team's fastest wide receiver by the Notre Dame media guide.
Evans becomes the fourth wide receiver or tight end from California to sign with Notre Dame in the past four years who failed to remain five semesters. Tight end Konrad Reuland, a San Diego native now at Stanford, transferred following his freshman year in 2007. Fellow San Diego-area native Will Yeatman and suburban Los Angeles native Joseph Fauria, both tight ends who left for disciplinary reasons, are now at Maryland and UCLA, respectively.
UCLA and Oregon are possible landing spots for Evans. Both schools are on the quarter system. UCLA's first day of classes is Monday, Sept. 20, and Oregon begins one week later on Sept. 27. Evans, obviously, would be required to sit out this season, but would have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2011.
Kelly said that Notre Dame will grant Evans his release as soon as he selects an institution.