Every college football player dreams of getting drafted and playing in the NFL. For Temple’s Evan Rodriguez, his dream became more of a reality on April 28, day three of the NFL Draft.
Rodriguez is a tight end, but that is merely a label as he also can play wide receiver, running back and fullback. He sat down with Class Act Sports for an exclusive interview after the Chicago Bears took him in the fourth round, 111th overall.
“It was a dream come true, getting drafted. I was at home with my family and a few friends, and once I got that phone call, I was like, ‘Oh man! Here we go!’ It was a blessing and I couldn’t be in a better program. We have a lot of Hall of Famers in that franchise. I am excited to get to work and give Bears Nation what I got,” he said to Class Act Sports’ Jared Ginsberg in the 10 minute interview.
The fact that he is so versatile is a main reason the Bears selected him. At 6’2” and 240 pounds, he still ran the 40 yard dash in 4.58 seconds.
“You can line me up at the fullback, you can line me up at wing, tight end, slot, wide receiver. I am just a missmatch for guys. You put a linebacker on me, I am going to use my speed. You put a defensive back on me, I am going to use my size advantage, so you have to pick your poison to cover me at least. I am just a team player at the same time. What ever [the Bears] want me to do, I’m going to do,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez had 69 catches for 871 yards at seven touchdowns over his three-year career at Temple. Playing at a school not known as a powerhouse in football, Temple is starting to get respect, which Rodriguez sees as a long time coming.
“A lot of guys didn’t respect Temple coming out, but lately we have been pretty productive with players that have been coming out of Temple and been in the league and made an impact. The program changed from nothing to going back into the Big East again. Big props to the coaching staff and the Temple family,” he told Ginsberg.
The 23-year old Bronx, New York native is only a handful of Latinos in the league (one percent). That is a fact which is not lost on Rodriguez.
“It means a lot. Hopefully now [kids] have a role model and somebody to look up to. It’s sad to say it’s one percent but I am in there now so hopefully there’s another one coming in the next year after me and soon well have a whole lot of Latinos in, not just football, in sports in general,” he said.
Rodriguez also gives back to the community, something he has been doing for a long time dating back to his childhood.
“When I was growing up, I had a lot of community service where I looked at other guys and they would tell me don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. It’s not going to be easy. Don’t be scared to ask for a hand because we all did it when we were growing up. My mother put me in a Big Brother, Big Sister Program when I was about eight years old and I met my mentor Tom Schoenewald, and he has been in my life ever since. When I was younger, he gave me that male model in my life and I respect everything that he has done for me,” Rodriguez said.
His mentor has meant so much to him, that it has inspired him to continue to help other kids.
“Being that I am in the Big Brother/Big Sister program, I had an event at Temple this year at one of my games where we brought out about 50-75 people and after the game I grabbed a few buddies and signed autographs for the kids and it was a good time. I did a lot of community service things at Temple. It was all voluntary work. I’m looking to open up my own camp pretty song once I get things rolling. Shelters, help out with Salvation Army things, fundraisers, how to organize food and give it out,” he told Class Act Sports.
He is a competitor who wants to win, and realizes how important it will be if he makes the Bears’ roster out of training camp.
“It’s a business trip and I gotta earn a spot. I gotta earn the players trust and also the coaches trust and also respect. Once you are on the gridiron, everything else goes out the window. It’s just strictly business on the field. I gotta support my family the same way that the other guy around me has to support his family so you are going to get the best of me,” he said.
And having Jay Cutler throw him the ball should mean plenty of scoring opportunities for Rodriguez, who has planned his touchdown celebration.
“There’s a few things I got in mind but everybody tells me since you are Latino, you gotta bring out the Spanish side of you. Victor Cruz has the salsa so I’ll probably do something with the 1-2-3- step that fans could join along to in stadiums,” Rodriguez said.
If things go the way Evan Rodriguez thinks they can and will, football fans will see a lot of dancing and celebrating from him this upcoming NFL season.
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