The best part about sports aren’t the conference titles and national championships a team delivers. (Although those are pretty nice, too.) The thing I love most about sports is the communities they create. You know exactly what I mean. No matter where you’re reading this, there is that one team, or maybe a few, that you, your family, or your town rally around every game day. In college athletics, these tight-knit communities become the “home away from home” for student-athletes the rest of their lives.
For a player like Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans, who is arguably the most dominant player to ever wear the maroon and white at Texas A&M University, College Station became that second home. And at the bowling alley inside Grand Station Entertainment, Evans gave back to the community that embraced him for two record-setting seasons of college football.
The 6-foot-5 wideout is larger-than-life to Texas A&M football fans. After redshirting in 2011, Evans spent two years etching his name into the school and SEC record books. In 2012, the Freshman All-SEC selection started every game, setting Texas A&M freshman records in catches (82) and receiving yards (1,105) while helping Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy.
The next year, Evans shattered the Aggies’ single-season record for receiving yards (1,394), which is the fifth-most in SEC history. The 2013 First-Team All-American owns two of the top five single-game performances by a receiver in league history (287 yards vs. Alabama, 279 yards vs. Auburn).
Evans’ 96.0 receiving yards per game are the third-most in Southeastern Conference history.
Despite being Tampa Bay’s first-round in the 2014 NFL Draft, Evans never forgot where he came from.
At that celebrity bowling event, Evans and his wife, Ashli, presented a check for $40,000 to Texas A&M University. Half of the gift, given on behalf of the Mike Evans Family Foundation, sets up 10 scholarships worth $2,000 each through the school’s Scholarships and Financial Aid office. The other half will go towards two Foundation Excellence Award scholarships, which are worth $10,000 each.
The scholarships are meant for students from low-income families with serious financial need, and also students from historically disadvantaged groups from Evans’ hometown of Galveston, Texas.
“My wife and I are all about helping. We just want to preach that if you work hard, you can get where you need to go. Just because you’re a little less fortunate doesn’t mean that you should be treated any differently.
“Galveston and College Station helped me become the man I am today as well as Tampa. I just want to give back as much as I can.”
— Mike Evans, h/t Texas A&M Foundation
The two-time Pro Bowl selection is off and running towards a Hall-of-Fame professional career after just five seasons, all of which were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evans has already set the NFL record as the youngest player to ever reach 6,000 career receiving yards (25 years, 131 days).
Last year, the Buccaneers rewarded Evans with a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension.
His legend is solidified in Texas, but that doesn’t mean this former Aggie and NFL star is ever going to quit giving back to the places he has called home over the years.