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 sixth entry covers his thoughts on spring practice, first team workout (New England Patriots) and decision to leave Gainesville, FL a week earlier than scheduled. Evans also details a busy week ahead as he has meetings set with three teams.
Though it has been a few weeks since I last checked in, most of my time has been spent working out, staying in shape, just getting better and hanging out with my teammates that were still in Gainesville doing the same thing. I’ve also been fielding calls from my agent and some teams just as he helps get my meetings set up and my schedule all together heading into the draft.
For workouts, usually it was me, Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins and sometimes Omarius Hines would come out there with us, too. We’re all close friends so we would just schedule a time and go in and workout. Maybe we would call someone else to come in and throw us the ball, too.
I know before the Pro Day and everything [Hines] may not have been on a lot of teams’ radar, but before I left to come back to New Jersey, he told me what sounded like some good news. He was originally expecting to wind up somewhere as an undrafted free agent but now it is looking like he might be a late-round pick, sixth or seventh round. If he can do that, that would be great for him to get on a team. And it’s a plus for the Gators to have another player drafted.
In between working out and chilling with the guys, a bunch of us would stop by spring practice. Florida is looking like it’s going to be a tough, physical team again next year. You can see a lot of the younger players really working hard, looking to make a statement. The coaching staff was getting after it as usual, getting on those guys and definitely getting the best out of them when they step on the field.
Antonio Morrison looks like a stud, a guy that is going to be a leader on the defense. Loucheiz Purifoy and the secondary look real strong. The defensive line was solid as usual and the offense looked like it was coming along, too. As long as the guys stick together and play together, the Gators will be all set.
I also looked at the safeties and how they were playing. They have Jabari [Gorman], Valdez [Showers], Jaylen [Watkins], Cody [Riggs] and Marcus Maye. I spoke to them. I told them that you want to be impressive in spring because you don’t want it to be where you still have to compete as much come [fall] camp. You want to make a name for yourself and be that guy so that you can lock down the job and then just improve each week during the summer and fall.
I know how Coach [Will] Muschamp is. He is going to play the best player regardless. He’s not going to show anybody any favoritism. Whoever is being productive and showing consistency will play. It’s going to be tough for those guys but they have to come together as a unit and step up. Whoever does what Muschamp wants will play, as simple as that.
Last weekend a bunch of us got the chance to meet with and workout for the New England Patriots – head coach Bill Belichick and [directer of player personnel Nick Caserio] were there. I met with him on Saturday and we watched film, went through some plays and progressions. He then also asked me a bunch about my background and history. The workout was the next day on Sunday.
Everybody knows Coach Belichick, the kind of guy he is. He’s going to work you out and get the best out of you. We all had a great workout. It was a little rough with me being the only safety out there. I had to do more running, overlapping, getting into my backpedal and showing change of direction. I did pretty well and felt pretty comfortable out there with him.
I’m used to his style of coaching. Of course we compare him to Urban Meyer: the way they think, their terminology and certain words they say, stuff I’m used to. Even the style of defense we ran at Florida [under Meyer] was similar to stuff [New England] runs. The overall workout was real intense. It was about 30 minutes of just getting after it. When we first started, we started off with bag drills, one after another. Then they lined us up like a defense by position and ran drills that way.
My original plan was to leave Gainesville after the spring game but once I realized that the majority of the [draft-eligible] guys were leaving, I was basically going to be by myself. Jelani Jenkins was my roommate and we hung out with Jordan Reed a lot. Jordan left after the Pro Day, Xavier [Nixon] left, Bostic was leaving, Jelani was leaving, and I kind of felt like I was going to be the only one down there. I think Mike [Gillislee] told me he was staying another week, but I booked my flight already because I thought I was the only one staying. It’s not like we were in school, so I didn’t want to be there for a week working out on my own. Instead I came back home and now I get to chill with my family while I workout. Considering most of my meetings and workouts look like they are going to be up in the Northeast, it made sense to come home early.
Next week for me is going to be a real busy week. It starts on Saturday. The defensive backs coach from the Patriots is going to fly down and actually work me out in Brooklyn, NY. I guess they’re going to have a dinner with me after that as well. On Monday, I fly out to Cleveland and am going to be there doing a visit for a day. When I get back from Cleveland, I’ll be working out for the New York Giants on Wednesday and then after that I have a work out with the New York Jets scheduled at the end of the week. After the Jets, I may have a visit scheduled with the Pittsburgh Steelers over that next weekend; I’m still waiting on a phone call to confirm when and where that is going to go down.
That is going to be my longest week most likely. Day after day is something new, so I won’t get a lot of rest. I’m assuming that after next week – at least right now nothing else is scheduled – things might slow down. Either way, I’ll be training all the way up until the draft and keeping all of you updated through my journey.