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Good article on Damon Evans in Omaha..

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Published Sunday June 22, 2008

Omaha son's roots run deep



Damon Evans felt like the world was crashing down on his young shoulders.

Growing up in Omaha and Lincoln, the promising athlete worshipped the Husker football team. He dreamed of suiting up for the Big Red one day. But then, in 1985, just as his sophomore year at Omaha Central was beginning, his father announced that the family was moving to Gainesville, Ga., about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.

"It was very rough," he said. "I didn't want to move. I grew up in this state. I was excited about the opportunities that might present themselves, if I was able to play football and maybe go to Nebraska. And then your mother and father say you're moving, and you've got your friends and you've got yourself established. That's one of the hardest things to do, to move."

Evans pleaded with his parents to let him stay and live with his grandparents. But after attending Omaha Central for two weeks, he moved south with the family. He graduated from Gainesville High School in 1988, where he earned first-team all-state football honors as a receiver, was named MVP of the basketball team and broke the

school school record in the 220-yard dash. His high football jersey was retired, and he went on to become a four-year starter at receiver for the University of Georgia.

On July 1, 2004, at the age of 34, Evans replaced Vince Dooley as the athletic director at Georgia, becoming the first black A.D. in the 71-year history of the Southeastern Conference and the youngest in the conference at the time. Now 38, he oversees one of the nation's most accomplished athletic departments, one that employs 250 people in 21 sports with a $74 million budget. His football coach, Mark Richt, also was born in Omaha but moved away at an early age.

Evans is enjoying his trip home as the Bulldogs baseball team continues its quest for a second national title at the College World Series. He estimated that he had 15 family members at Georgia's previous game, and another handful of relatives at Saturday's game at Rosenblatt Stadium.

"At the end of the day, things turned out well for me," Evans said. "But I'm very fond of Nebraska. It's where my roots are. You adjust and you adapt, and that's what happened."

Evans' father, Samuel, worked for Xerox, and his mother, Diane, was born in Omaha and worked for the Nebraska Department of Roads. They met while attending the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Damon Evans was born in Omaha, moved to Lincoln for grade school and then came back to Omaha.

He spent eighth grade at Morton Middle School and ninth grade at the Horace Mann Center, now the King Science Center. Through the years, his allegiance to the Huskers grew.

"Are you kidding me? When you live in Nebraska, you can't be anything else but a Husker fan," he said. "When I lived in Lincoln, I went to some games. Had the opportunity to witness the old Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry. I remember people like Turner Gill and Mike Rozier and Jarvis Redwine and Roger 'the Dodger' Craig. So I grew up a big fan."

Back in his seat at Rosenblatt, Evans smiles when told that he's still wearing red after all these years.

"Nebraska is a great place," he said. "I think it played a significant impact on where I'm at today. It helped me grow and develop. I had a good family base here that allowed me to learn. I'll never forget Nebraska.

"When I got off the plane, I was telling my pilot, 'You guys know I'm from Nebraska, don't you?' So I'm very proud to be from Omaha."

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