DeKALB – Northern Illinois cornerback Sean Evans grew up with Florida State football.
For starters, Evans' father, Mo, and aunt, Pat, are both Florida State graduates. His dad's close fried, Bill Richardson, who Evans considers an uncle, was a walk-on cornerback during the Deion Sanders era in Talahassee.
Evans, who grew up in Fort Walton Beach, less than three hours from Florida State's campus, remembers the Seminoles' dominance in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and spent his share of Saturday afternoons watching Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium up until he graduated high school.
"Every weekend when I was younger, if the weekend and my dad's schedule opened up, we were in Tallahassee every weekend," Evans said. "That's all I knew as a child."
Playing the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl is a unique experience for any Huskie, maybe even more so for Evans, who will have roughly 15 family members and friends watching him at Sun Life Stadium.
Each player gets six tickets to use, and Evans was able to get a few extra from players who won't have as many family members heading down. Normally, the situation is reversed as Evans gave other players his tickets to NIU home games with his family down in Florida, although his parents were able to come to three home games this season, as well as the Mid-American Conference Championship win over Kent State.
Unfortunately, Evans had to turn some ticket requests down, but he'll have plenty of fans watching him.
"I can't have everybody come, but it's going to be good, because I have my close, immediate family and friends will be there," said Evans, who has 19 tackles, a sack and seven pass breakups this season. "So, I'm excited."
At first, Evans said competing against the team he grew up watching felt like a dream. Now, it's finally sunk in and Evans is ready to go back to Florida and play on the big stage.
"I've been a fan [of Florida State] since I've been a little kid. When we go down there to South Beach, it's a business trip as if it's playing any other team," Evans said. "I'm not star-struck by any means, but this is a great opportunity for me to go back to my home state, and to show them what they missed out on."
Evans' father may be an FSU fan, but not New Year's Day.
"He's pulling for me 100 percent. When we're not playing, he'll yell at the TV when Florida State's on," Evans said. "But when it's NIU, it's no question."