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 second entry is focused on his decision to cut his famous dreadlocks and what he has been doing in his training sessions over the last week as he continues to prepare for the 2013 NFL Combine. He also answered three fan questions.
A lot of fans have been asking me about why I decided to cut my dreadlocks, so I figured addressing that question would be a good way to start this entry. I had my dreads for about seven years, but it came down to a point where I felt like I did not want to be stereotyped as a typical guy from the urban part of New Jersey who had a label to him and a bad image. It was to prove a point that I was willing to take the next step as a player and not give anyone a reason to judge me based on my look.
It’s unfair for guys to be judged on how they look or how they wear their hair. Take a guy like me. I come from a rough place, but I’ve never done anything [negative] for anyone to look at me in a bad way. If you look at the next guy from where I’m from, another African-American with dreads, he might be looked at initially as a drug dealer or some type of bad guy that gets in trouble. A lot of people get the wrong idea about people who look a certain way, so I just wanted to show that I’m different even though it should not matter when I’m being evaluated.
Last time I checked in was right after the East-West Shrine Game. When I got back to my place in South Florida, I immediately began training for the combine once again. Last week, some more defensive backs came in and made things even more competitive. Tyrann Mathieu of LSU and Branden Smith of Georgia just came in and being able to compete with those guys and work on certain drills with them allows you to see how you stack up with the competition.
In camp, we go up against plenty of tight ends and wide receivers while working on drills. It is mutually beneficial because it keeps all of us competitive and makes sure things do not get stale. Keenan Allen out of California, who may be the top wide receiver in the draft, is also in camp. Being able to go up against top guys like him really keeps me and the other guys on our toes.
We have not started running full-out combine drills just yet as we’re still working on individual areas of each specific drill and breaking everything down. I’ve been working really hard on my start. I know I’ve got the speed once I get going, but I know that if I can explode out of my start then I can improve my time a lot. So I’ve been working on getting out of the block and getting going and have already seen some improvements.
The hardest thing we’ve done so far is the treadmill sprint. Realize these are not your regular treadmills. I believe there’s only two or three of these built by our trainer. It actually helps you a lot because when you run on them, you’re facing resistance. It’s like having 30-60 more pounds on your back. It makes you stronger and faster. It’s not something you run on for a long time; you’re probably only running for like 10 seconds but that quick interval tires you out. Once you get out to the field after running the sprint on the treadmill, it seems so much easier.
We’ve also been doing a lot of ladder drills which are improving our footwork and quickness. Some might think these drills are similar to the things we did during practice in college but those workouts were to improve you as an overall player while these are all focused specifically on making the most out of one big day.
Aside from training, I spend most of my time getting massages and treatment on my body. In the middle of the week we do yoga, which has already improved my flexibility. I do errands in my spare time. I don’t know a lot of people down here, so I’m mostly just doing extra stretching, working on my craft and whatever else I can to improve.
I hang out with the other guys I’m training with as well, but we are all still getting to know each other. As I mentioned last week, Matt Elam is down here training with me. He left for an all-star competition in Dallas, TX but should be back soon. Elam was looking real good and explosive during the first week he was down here, and it was nice to have a teammate down here that can relate to what I’m going through.
Evans also took some time to answer a few fan questions that were left on the comment section of his first entry. He will answer questions each week.
Q: Are you trying to model your game after any current NFL players?
A: “It’s hard to say, but I know somebody who I try to model my game after and want to play like and follow in the footsteps of is Ed Reed. He’s one of the best safeties in the history of the NFL. Watching him play, checking out his ball skills, that’s how I want to play, so I’ve always paid extra attention to him. It’s hard to model your game after somebody like him because he’s a legend, but I do try to do some of the good things he does on the field.”
Q: Do you have a favorite NFL team or a team you see yourself playing for?
A: “I never had a team or a number one team. I was never really a big fan of one team. Coming from New Jersey, I always rooted for the home teams like the Jets and Giants. I’m willing to play wherever and make the best of the opportunity I’m given.”
Q: Which Florida teammates helped you become the player and person you are now?
A: “Coming in as a freshman, Joe Haden was somebody I actually hung out with a lot. He was from up north and he was someone who could relate to me as far as being in the secondary and understanding coming to a big school like Florida and the ups and downs about it. As time went on, my roommate – Jelani Jenkins – also played a role in helping me out with stuff, talking about issues on and off the field like school or anything that was going on at home. Those two guys were definitely influential in my life with the Gators.”