Through the 2013 NFL Draft from April 25-27, Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.
Evans’s first entry discusses what he has been doing since the end of the season including training in South Florida, preparing for the 2013 NFL Combine and competing in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19. in St. Petersburg, FL
After the bowl game and everything, I actually went home to New Jersey for two days to spend time with my family before travelling to Boca Raton, FL to begin training with Tony Villani of XPE Sports. He’s a big name in this industry who trains the top defensive backs and some of the fastest guys at the combine.
There are a ton of other draft-eligible players working with me down here including Matt Elam, Rashard Hall (Clemson), Earl Wolff (N.C. State), Ray Ray Armstrong (Miami), Dee Milner (Alabama), Brandon McGee (Miami), Rod Sweeting (Georgia Tech) and plenty of other guys from great programs.
I’ve spent basically all of my time after the bowl game working down in Boca Raton, and I’ve already started learning a lot. Tony has been teaching me how to get more explosive on my starts, improve my leg work and get my core right. I’ve been seeing instant results as far as fixing my technique issues and learning how to push out better.
My first time running the 40-yard dash, the first week I arrived for the pre-test, I ran it in 4.49 seconds with the laser. That was my first time running it raw with no technique taught to me or anything. As far as the guys training down here, I actually ran the fastest time out of any of the safeties.
Tony has already helped me improve on that time but it is a work in progress. My goal is to get to 4.39 seconds, but he’s had guys improve even more than that down into the 4.2-second range. I’m trying to hit that number, and he’s showed statistics where his program has gotten players close to those numbers.
Before I went down to the East-West game, I was training with Eric Berry of the Kansas City Chiefs. We did some drills with footwork and one-on-ones and stuff. He was just working with me as far as showing me different coverage techniques and one-on-one stuff that was very helpful.
That next Saturday on Jan. 12, I got up to St. Petersburg and then Sunday we did a hospital visit with the shrine patients, kids with disabilities or other health issues. We met with them and put smiles on their faces, played some sports and had a lot of fun together. I’ve done stuff like that at Florida before, and it’s a very rewarding experience.
During the process of that week, Monday through Wednesday, that’s when the intense practices went on with the NFL scouts watching. It was interesting to go out there and compete and showcase my talent. I felt pretty comfortable with where I was at. We had a great defensive back coach, and he was showing us a lot of stuff as far as backpedaling techniques, coming out of our breaks. We also did plenty of defensive back drills before doing 7-on-7s.
Throughout the whole process, things went smooth. I felt like I did real well in the practices. As far as drill work and stuff like that, I felt pretty confident when I was done.
I’ve been asked by fans and others why I did not play a lot in the game. Throughout the whole week, I started every day in practice. The biggest days were Monday through Wednesday, which is when all the scouts were there and I was running with the first team, showing what I could do.
On Saturday what the coaches did, I guess, was decide to randomly stagger the depth chart so guys who did not get much exposure during practice could be seen playing. They just moved everybody around to get a feel for playing with everybody. I’m not sure exactly why, but the guys from the bigger schools seemed to get more exposure during practice than during the game.
I didn’t complain at all. I enjoyed my time. After my second series in the game, the coaches and I shut it down so I could get ready for training and did not risk any injury by continuing to play. Most of the scouts were gone by the game anyway, I didn’t see too many of them. I think most of them left to go down to Alabama that Saturday for the Senior Bowl. To me, the game was Monday through Wednesday, because that’s when everybody was there.
While in St. Petersburg, I met with about 25 teams throughout the whole week. Everything went pretty good. I could go down the list of teams I met with. Everything went well going through the interviewing process and getting an idea of what it is going to be like when I’m down in Indianapolis, IN for the combine. It’s another job interview. They want to see what you’ve got, how you can help the team, what steps you can take forward to become a leader down the road.
The majority of the interviews started out with my background before moving on to my career at Florida, going through the coaching changes and how I handled adversity. They asked me if I considered myself a leader, and I said especially with what I did last year, I definitely thought I took on that role in a big way. I met with a lot of the younger players, watched more film, met with the coaches to improve my game.
They basically asked how I feel about where I’m at right now as a player and what I’m doing on a daily basis to improve on my game. They asked me if I was willing to take that next step forward as a player to become a future starter in the NFL. Of course, the answer was ‘yes.’
Now I’m back in Boca Raton and will stay down here to train as I get ready for the combine. I’m glad that I have the platform here to reach out to fans and share my experiences. You all have been so supportive of me over the last four years, and I hope you enjoy these updates on my Path to the Draft.