The 2013 NFL Draft is now in the books, and Florida Gators fans saw eight players – one shy of the school record in a seven-round draft – get selected from Thursday-Saturday. Safety Josh Evans, Florida’s leading tackler in 2012, patiently waited for his name to be called and eventually saw his dream come true late on Saturday when he was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 169 overall pick, the first of the sixth round of the draft. Below is Evans’s final entry as his Path to the Draft has finally come to a close. OGGOA thanks him for keeping his fans up-to-date on his experiences over the last four months in this exclusive blog.
The whole draft process was pretty crazy. It really is unlike anything else I have experienced or will probably experience again in my life. Though I knew I would not be drafted during the first round on Thursday, there were indications that I could go during the second day on Friday.
Personally, I thought I would be going anywhere from the third or fourth round on down. The Dallas Cowboys had actually called me twice on Thursday – in the morning and at night – and told me they were looking to pick a safety on Friday or first thing on Saturday. They wound up taking somebody else [J.J. Wilcox - No. 80 overall], so I just stayed humble and hungry and waited for that phone call from another team.
When I did not get selected on Friday, it was not a major concern. I wondered what was going on and how things would play out, but I kept my faith in God and figured that something good would happen. No matter what, I was going to make the most of whatever opportunity a team decided to give me.
During the fifth round, the Buffalo Bills called me and told me that they were interested. When they didn’t select me, the next team I heard from was the Jacksonville Jaguars, which called me about a minute before they drafted me.
As I wrote here last time, the Jaguars spoke with me and my agent three times over the last week, so I knew they were interested…but I did not know I would end up there.
When they called, they asked if I was “ready to be a Jacksonville Jaguar.” I said, “Absolutely,” and then my name popped up on the TV a minute later and then my family and everyone around me got excited.
There was tons of excitement. As soon as I got off the phone, I got like 100 phone calls and text messages with everyone congratulating me. Most of the Gators coaching staff called or texted me to congratulate me, too. Dan Quinn called me right afterwards. T-Rob [Travaris Robinson] called me. [Will] Muschamp texted me to say congratulations and everything. T-Rob joked that me and Jelani [Jenkins] will still be close – we were roommates for four years at Florida – we won’t be too far from each other.
I’ll be honest though, my head started swimming when I saw Jelani go to Miami [in the fourth round] because I started wondering if the Dolphins were going to take more Gators. And then before they took [Caleb] Sturigs, they took Gilly [in the fifth round]. I was saying to myself, ‘Wouldn’t this be crazy if me, Jelani and Mike Gillislee were all on the same team again. How crazy would that be?’ They wound up picking another Gator, which was cool. They should do well and have a good time down there together.
The excitement was at a high level for another hour or two after I was drafted. It then started to mellow down and I wound up having a little get-together down in New York with family and friends and we all had a good time.
I don’t have to report to Jacksonville until Thursday, so I’ve just been in New Jersey working out, packing up and getting ready for minicamp.
The biggest thing is that I’m familiar with Jacksonville. I can always go back to Florida and visit with Muschamp, the coaching staff and a bunch of great players. I’m almost back home [in Gainesville]. Jacksonville is only about 1:30 away from Gainesville, so it is a really comfortable situation.
I’m going to be able to come in and maximize my opportunities with the Jaguars, whether that is to play special teams right away or compete for a starting safety job. Everything that Jacksonville has told me has been positive. They want me to come in and be able to compete for a job right away. I’m not going to get ahead of myself, but I’m a competitor so I’m going to come in, compete and do whatever it takes to be on the field.
This has been a long journey and this first part of it is finally over.
I just want to say a special “thank you” to the fans that follow me on Twitter and have been reading this Path to the Draft blog. You all have been very supportive throughout my career and especially since I’ve started this blogging here on OGGOA.
You’ve all been showing a lot of respect and love and passion for what I do, tweeting me and sending me messages. That has all meant a lot to me. One “thank you” is not enough. I wish I could do more to give back. But we’re still on this journey. Now is the time for me to put my foot in the water and see where it takes me.