September 23, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers' biggest fan cheers through thick and thin

With a love for Rutgers athletics, his own clothing company and a unique sense of humor, Evan Blaire is one of a kind.

Originally wanting to study audio engineering at The College of New Jersey, Blaire decided not to take such a narrow path after his rejection from the school and because of the urging of his father.

"I thought about it and Rutgers had a Division I sports program, which played a factor in my decision," Blaire said.

Upon Blaire's arrival at the University, he attended his first football game versus Michigan State University, where Rutgers won by five points.

Win or lose, Blaire stayed a true Rutgers football fan throughout the past four seasons, attending every home game and as many away games as possible. He even secured season tickets well in advance so he would be able to attend games regularly after graduation.

"I already have my season tickets for next year," Blaire said. "I got them last year because I knew they would sell out. Sure enough, there's a waiting list of 10,000 people. I'm pretty much a genius for doing that."

Blaire could be spotted in section 109, row one, decked out in Scarlet Red and surrounded by his group of fellow football fanatics at each game.

"People sometimes say they see me across the stadium, and I'm like, 'Really?' I'm like a giant beacon," Blaire said in reference to his red curly hair.

Blaire made a point of being the first person in line to enter the stadium on gamedays - sometimes arriving six or more hours in advance.

"It's funny just how people are like, 'Can I sit up front with you,'" Blaire said. "And I'm like, 'Yeah, wait six hours before the game, freeze ... get hypothermia and sit through the West Virginia game where we lose by 30. Then you can sit up front with us.'"

During his last season cheering on the Scarlet Knights as a student, Blaire invited first-year students to sit up front with him as a way of taking them under his wing.

School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year student Cory Hanson said he and his friend started a Facebook group called "Rutgers freshmen willing to paint up," referring to painting their stomachs for the football games.

"Evan saw that and got in contact with us," Hanson said. "He wanted to show us the ropes of the football section because he's a senior and he's graduating. We turned into really good friends."

Hanson, among others, said he thinks Blaire is the biggest Rutgers football fan ever.

"He knows everything about the players and why they came to Rutgers," he said.

Blaire has lived up to his reasoning for attending the University through his dedication toward the football team.

Blaire said he makes a cheat sheet before each game about the opposing teams players, with information about their families, personal lives and anything they can use to make fun of them with.

Blaire became friends with ESPN sideline reporter Sarah Kustok after helping with her introduction for her coverage of a game, Rutgers College senior Marc Lava said. He, along with Blaire, held binoculars next to Kustok as a part of the "See Ray Run" ad campaign just before kick off.

"We were crying laughing," Blaire said. "Everyone was cheering for us."

Blaire said he and his friends have traditions before each game they attend - always trying to wear red socks and the same shoes, while Lava wears the same hat and the same pair of shorts.

"One day, Marc didn't wear them and we lost," he said. "We will lose sometimes wearing that stuff. But if we lose and you didn't wear it, then it's like 'Oh, that's why we lost.'"

During Blaire's first two years at the University, he was not able to attend many away games because he could not have his car on campus. But during his junior and senior year, he attended all but one each season.

"This year, people were like fighting for spots in my car," Blaire said. "We ended up taking a couple cars sometimes."

Financially, Blaire had no problem traveling to any games, whether at the University of Connecticut or any of the bowl games. He was able to attend the games because of his clothing company, The Bright Pursuit.

Blaire designs merchandise for bands, organizations and Rutgers football, where he makes gameday T-shirts with clever slogans depending on the day's rival.

Blaire said he made T-shirts for many games, one in particular being the West Virginia game that said "The Brokeback Mountaineers."

Lava and Blaire went to a Touchdown Club meeting this summer because Blaire had a membership. Lava said Greg Schiano was speaking and went right to his SUV after he was done.

Blaire ran in front of Schiano's SUV, almost getting run over, just to give him a T-shirt Blaire made that said "Welcome to New Jersey, home of the three bosses: Bruce, Tony and Greg," Lava said. Blaire saw Schiano's wife at the Syracuse game where she told him she wears it around the house.

Aside from designing T-shirts for Rutgers football, Blaire also designs merchandise for many well-known bands. But he started out in a much smaller setting.

Blaire said he would go to a church in Howell that had shows every weekend and attracted a few hundred people. One band approached him and asked if he would make merchandise for them.

Two months later, Blaire was finally able to print the T-shirts he designed.

The band only sold 50 of the T-shirts, which Blaire said he thought looked horrible but took him a considerable amount of time to print.

"Then I said to myself, 'Wait a minute, it doesn't cost me anything, and I get paid to do it.' To design a shirt costs me nothing but my time,'" he said.

Blaire began e-mailing managers of various bands and worked his way up from his first T-shirt design, in both experience and the reputation of bands he worked for.

"You get one decent band, and someone else will pay attention to you," Blaire said.

Blaire now designs merchandise for Fall Out Boy, Coheed and Cambria, Boys Like Girls, Taking Back Sunday, Pink, Avenged Sevenfold, 311, Cobra Starship, among others, and said he was even close to designing for Cher.

"He's super into [his company], and he's accomplished so much for being a 21-year-old," Hanson said.

Although Blaire is not certain what he will do after graduation, his friends are confident he will be successful.

"He's the most outgoing person you will ever meet," Lava said. "If he sets his mind to something, he goes all out. He wants to keep the company, but it's not enough to live off of. One day, he wants to have his own company and run that. He said the job will fall into his lap."

Besides being a football fanatic and successful with his company, Blaire is said to have a great sense of humor.

"He's one of the funniest people I've ever met," Hanson said. "Some of the stuff he says you can't stop laughing."

Caitlin Mahon

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