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 third entry covers his training regimen over the last two weeks, how he continues to prepare for the 2013 NFL Combine (which begins for him on Saturday), a trip he and Matt Elam took to Gainesville, FL last weekend and how Florida’s defense has prepared him for the next chapter in his playing career.
These last two weeks in training there has been a lot of focus on our 10- and 20-yard splits, seeing how we’ve improved from the start of camp and making some final adjustments to our body positioning. I’ve seen a lot of progress as far as where I was at the first week to where I’m at now. I’m getting off the line a lot quicker with much better form and it is showing up in the final times.
It’s crazy to see how much I’ve improved in the defensive back drills, cone drills, the figure-eight drills and the pro shuttle. Learning the new techniques and being taught how to explode out and plant my foot has really made a difference. In the past, I was just using my speed and talent to do a drill. Proper technique is much more important and can help get time down because you are being more productive in your movements.
It’s totally different doing these drills now then during the course of an offseason program or football practice. Sometimes you end up practicing a bad habit in college because you do it so fast that you don’t pay attention to technique. Repping it day by day has definitely helped me a lot with muscle memory, getting the steps down pat, counting the steps and knowing once I explode out of the gate how to cut and plant.
Last week we had some time to recuperate and get out strength back. The trainers gave our legs and bodies a bit of a break but still made sure we were giving it our all with what they assigned us. Every Wednesday we do warm up stretches and then yoga. I had never tried yoga before doing this training.
I never knew how much yoga can actually help you as far as flexibility and movement that can pay dividends you on the field. Being a defensive back, they always talk about hip movement. You’d be surprised to know that certain yoga stretches can help you be more flexible as far as planting, cutting, flipping your hips and turning. Defensive backs do a lot of turning because they cover receivers and sometimes have to come back toward the line of scrimmage to tackle a running back that gets through the first level. It has definitely helped me. I’m able to stretch further than I did. Certain movements are quicker now. It is also helping me during my pro shuttle and agility drills, loosening up muscles I’ve never stretched before.
After training on Thursday, Matt Elam and I left to go back to Gainesville, FL. We woke up early Friday morning at 5:30 a.m. to watch the younger guys go through their grind program. We spoke to them a little bit about playing for the Gators and motivated them, pushed them to keep going forward. We told them to take advantage of this opportunity because any given day it can be taken away from you. We also talked about blocking out any negativity and always respecting your coaches. The more respect you have for your coaches and teammates, the better chemistry you have and the more trust you have in one another. It is really early for them. They have not even been through spring ball yet, so it was definitely not a big speech. It was more just rallying them together and pushing them to be the best they can be.
After those guys finished, Elam and I worked out and did some drills on the field to get back into it and not take too much time off.
Right around noon, that was the big part of the visit for us. We got on the whiteboard with Coach [Will] Muschamp and T-Rob [defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson] to go back over our defensive schemes. We wanted to hit those areas that probably were a little grey for us since we have not played in a game in almost two months. We went over how to speak about formations and talk about coverages, how to adjust in certain situations. That was our big deal – to meet with them on Friday and get with them again Saturday morning to go back over everything on the whiteboard because that’s a lot of stuff that teams will be asking us in interviews.
Coach Muschamp was just telling us to be confident. We have a pretty advanced scheme at Florida and should stand out a lot in interviews with our knowledge of the pro-style defense. He wanted us to make sure scouts knew how well we can communicate on the field because that’s really what they look at on the back end with safeties. They want guys who can direct traffic. That was pretty much it. He did not give us a big speech. He trusts us and knows we take care of ourselves. He doesn’t have to worry about us being in any type of trouble or anything.
When we do board work with players from other schools, I realize how advanced our schemes are in comparison. Florida and teams like Alabama run a similar defense. Then you look at a defense from Illinois, for example, and it is completely different. The way they learn and how they go about stuff is relying more off of talent than anything else. With the Gators, our scheme, if you buy into it and learn it in and out, you know what to do and why you’re doing it. It makes you a better player and more pro-ready. I’m definitely thankful for that.
Never give up on the things you really want in life. Just work harder then everyone else to get it.
— Josh Evans (@JAY_E_9) February 19, 2013