On September 28th 2021 a lot of people, for the first time hear the name Caleb Evans. Ottawa Redblacks fans, people in Ottawa, CFL fans and people tuned into TSN or ESPN got their first looks at 23 year old quarterback Caleb Evans from Mansfield, Texas.
The first look was a great look. In fact it was nearly perfect. It was first time Evans ever put on a professional football uniform and played a professional football game. He went out and threw for 191 yards and three scores while gaining an additional 59 yards on the ground, leading the Redblacks to a 34-24 win over the Edmonton Elks. Talking about the opportunity he had, to start a professional football game and play the way he did Evans said, “It went by so fast. I didn’t even realize we were going to win until I threw the TD to Kenny (Stafford). I felt like myself out there again. It was like I was back. I was playing loose. It was great, and we got the W which was lit.” Following the game he was then one of the biggest topics around all of the CFL because of his outstanding performance and after coming into Ottawa at the beginning of training camp in July with no intentions to play in 2021, he went on to play in the final eight games of the CFL season.
Over the final weeks of the season, Evans ended up throwing for a total 1,279 yards, running for an additional 345 and scored 8 offensive touchdowns. He got Ottawa two wins, and showed flashed of what is possible for him in the future but one thing that stood out to him, that he alluded to earlier, is that he was playing loose, very similar to how he played in University, and even back in high school as well. His University football career can almost be looked at as a blueprint for his professional career because of how similar the start has been. As a freshman in University, like his rookie year in the CFL he wasn’t supposed to play. He started the year as a redshirt freshman, but had the opportunity to travel with the team. “It was a players dream.” he said, “being on the team, and doing everything as if you are playing, but not playing the games.” Although, like his rookie year in Ottawa where both Matt Nichols and Dominique Davis suffered injuries ahead of him, he had the opportunity to play. “The starter got hurt early on in the season, it was like week four or five when I got called up to the roster, then a couple of weeks later I was starting because the backup wasn’t playing the best.” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “I went on to start the rest of my freshman year, and battled for the starting spot the next year and just continued to start in my junior and senior years. It was fun, my coaches were good, and I had a good group around me. I learnt the system we ran like the back of my hand so it also got easy for me to play without worries.”
If you take a look at the situation Evans is in now in Ottawa, it is almost identical to the sophomore season at University of Louisiana Monroe. As a sophomore in University he was battling for a starting spot. As a second year quarterback with the Redblacks, with veteran game manager Jeremiah Masoli ahead of him, it’s not necessarily a battle, but he still has an opportunity in front of himself to prove what he can do in the CFL for the Redblacks. Masoli is expected to start. At 33 years old, he’s got a lot of experience in the CFL, and successful experience as well. He’s signed a two year deal with the Redblacks and the front office has built a good offence around him as well. However, over the span of his career Masoli has suffered a number of injuries, and with an 18 game schedule ahead of the Ottawa Redblacks, there is a good chance that Evans has a game or two to play, and if he balls out in those small windows of opportunity, more opportunities could be on the horizon. Anything is possible in professional football, and Evans himself knows that. That is why he is working hard this off-season to prepare for the future, and prepare for any situation that may come up. “I’ve been trying to learn how to be patient this off-season.” he said about his first off-season as a professional, “In college there were always workouts and trainings to go to throughout the year. Our coaches set things up for us, and it was really non stop. We had an off-season, but there was barley much time off. Now, after we finish in November there are like 5 or 6 months in between the end of the season and the next training camp. That is a lot of time, and you’re on your own the entire time, and right after the season was done, I would love to have just thrown a lot and started getting ready for the season right away, but I wanted to take a break, and time the off-season out properly so that I am at my peak at training camp.”
This off-season, Evans is also looking to achieve some things off of the football field. Sure, the training is important, and preparing himself for the work on the field for training camp is important, but some things off the field are equally, maybe even more important. “I’m getting better as a professional this off-season. I am working towards a lot of different things, and one is to be better in all aspects, not just in football. There is a lot of possible opportunities in front of me and I want to maximize it, and also have some focus on the future too.”
Off of the football field, at University of Louisiana Monroe he studied both Kinesiology and Sports Management. Taking those courses, Evans learnt more about the opportunities he has in front of him to stay in football past his playing career. There are so many different jobs you can have within the game of football from the media side, management, and to the coaching staffs. He said, “If I can get into something with football (in the future), I’d definitely want to. It was nice to take those classes because a lot of us in it were athletes or had an athlete mindset so it was easy to relate to everyone and talk to my classmates.” Even past football, some interest in business, and investing has also come up for Evans. He said passionately to Zlomislic, “There are so many ways to make an income. My dad has been doing construction for a while now and has been a go to handyman for almost anything so I’ve seen that kind of business opportunity, and I’m kind of interested in running a business of my own in the future, and also get into investing. Not like crypto or stocks, but buying trucks and some things and using them to make money, offering some services.”
Right now, in the middle of his professional football career, he can’t necessarily eat it every day, but answering some “get to know you” questions, Evans mentioned some of his favourite restaurants. In no specific order he would easily go with Chilis, Olive Garden, Jack in the Box, and Chick Fil A while back home in the states, but both Subway and Zak’s Diner in Ottawa found a special place in his heart as well. He also says that watching Netflix, when he’s not doing anything associated with football, is something he enjoys to do, the anime series “One-Punch Man” being one of his favourite things to watch.
With a good head on his shoulders and amazing potential on the football field, Caleb Evans is clearly set to do big things on and off of the field. The Mansfield, Texas native will come back to Ottawa in May for Redblacks training camp, and with the time ticking for the off-season, he’s excited to be back in Ottawa to work. “I’m looking forward to it,” he said, “I’ve already been there, and I’ve already played in the CFL so I’m more prepared than I was last year for the football. It’ll be fun to be back, and hopefully with less Covid restrictions I’ll be able to do some more things in the city too, and really be in Ottawa.”