Jaguars and S Josh Evans come to terms

Each of the two Florida Gators safeties selected in the 2013 NFL Draft agreed to rookie contracts with their respective franchise on Thursday as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Josh Evans came to terms on a four-year deal just hours after Matt Elam and the Baltimore Ravens made things official.

Evans’s rookie agreement was officially announced by the club though terms were not disclosed.

Based on the rookie wage scale set by the NFL’s latest collective bargaining agreement with the player’s union, his deal will be worth a total of $2.304 million with a $144,560 signing bonus.

“I just feel honored to be a part of the Jaguars and this new organization,” Evans told OnlyGators.com on Friday. “I’m excited to get down to Jacksonville and compete. I’m also excited for my first training camp as a professional.”

Evans was selected by Jacksonville with the No. 169 overall selection – the first pick in the sixth round – of the draft in April. The Jaguars viewed him as one of the best safeties in the draft and actually had a much higher draft grade on him.

He is the eighth Florida player drafted by Jacksonville in franchise history and the first since the Jaguars took Derrick Harvey (No. 8 – 2008). Evans is also the third Gators defensive back chosen by the team in the last eight seasons, following Dee Webb (No. 236 – 2006) and Reggie Nelson (No. 21 – 2007).

Evans joins former Florida defensive end Jeremy Mincey on Jacksonville’s roster and is expected to officially sign his contract on Monday. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch was once a graduate assistant with the Gators.

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FOUR BITS: Walk, Elam, Driskel, Kitchens

1 » Former Florida Gators center Neal Walk, the highest-drafted basketball player in school history (No. 2 overall in the 1969 NBA Draft), is featured in last week’s Sports Illustrated “Where Are They Now?” issue. In the piece, Walk discusses how vegetarianism and drug use affected his performance on the court and eventually caused him to get traded away from the Phoenix Suns. He eventually played in Italy but was arrested for drug possession and soon ended his career. Walk, who renamed himself Joshua Hawk in the 1980s following a spiritual journey, has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 26 years after being diagnosed with atrophy. He had the opportunity to return to the Suns shortly after retiring and remained with the franchise up until recently being let go in Oct. 2012. Be sure to pick up the latest copy of SI for a detailed and immensely interesting look at Walk’s life and career.

2 » After going through the 2013 NFL Draft process without an agent, Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has decided not maintain his stance not to hire one and will instead negotiate his own rookie contract, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. The No. 32 overall pick in April, Elam is being advised by his brother, seven-year veteran NFL safety Abram Elam, who is currently a free agent. Matt Elam’s rookie contract will be a four-year deal worth $6.8 million with a $3.3 million signing bonus, terms that are already worked out under the slotting system that was agreed upon during the last collective bargaining agreement between league owners and the NFL Players Association. He plans to get the deal done before the start of training camp. Other Gators rookies unsigned as of press time are Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans.

Read two more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Walk, Elam, Driskel, Kitchens

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15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Texas Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski, a die-hard Florida Gators fan, does the Gator Chomp after hitting a double off St. Louis Cardinals left-handed pitcher Randy Choate, a former Florida State player, on Friday night. [Special thanks to OGGOA reader Mitchell M. for sending this in.]

» Sports Illustrated soccer columnist Grant Wahl penned a terrific column on former Florida striker Abby Wambach, who passed Mia Hamm and set a new career international goals record on Thursday.

» A total of 21 Gators (10 former and 11 current) are presently in Des Moines, IA, competing in the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships and USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Athletes participating in the event from June 19-23 have the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.

Omar Craddock and Will Claye became the first two Florida representatives to qualify on Thursday when they finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. Craddock took the American title with a mark of 17.15m/56-4.25, while Claye finished second with a 17.04m/55-11 jump. Also advancing to Moscow was Ugonna Ndu, who participated at the All-Nigeria Athletics Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles in 13.4 seconds. Numerous other Gators advanced in their respective disciplines, and OGGOA will provide updates as each event finishes.

» Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, still sidelined with a stress fracture in his right fibula, is finally expected to return to the court in just over a week. According to the Washington Post, Beal will likely be cleared by doctors on July 1, three months after his injury was initially diagnosed. The Wizards were originally hoping Beal would be able to participate in the NBA Summer League games, but it is unlikely that the team takes the risk of putting him into action so soon after he returns from injury. It is more likely that Beal will next play meaningful basketball alongside Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons during 2013 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Mini-Camp from July 22-25 in Las Vegas, NV.

Check out 11 more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!

Continue Reading » 15 Gator Bites for Friday, June 21

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17 Gator Bites for Tuesday, May 7

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» The relationship between Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels and the Florida Gators has soured. According to ESPN 106.3 out of West Palm Beach, FL, Daniels is angry that two former Dwyer players who committed to Florida but have since left the program (quarterback Jacoby Brissett and tight end Gerald Christian) did not get the opportunities they were promised with the team. “I’ve said all along, I don’t think he’s been given the fair shot which was said was going to happen,” Daniels said in regards to Brissett. “It was made clear to him, and to everybody else, that it didn’t matter what Jeff Driskel did, it was [Driskel’s] job and going into next fall, it’s going to be the same way. I think he had no choice. If I was quarterback on that team last year, I might have been able to get some wins, the way their defense was playing.” He continued: “The way Jacoby was handled and the decision that was made…if it was my kid, I wouldn’t expect anybody to treat my kid like that, and I don’t think anybody should treat anybody like that. I think it was a complete lie about how he was going to be given a fair chance and I don’t think there’s anything to dispute that there wasn’t a lie.”

Despite all of this – including similar comments about how Christian “was frustrated and felt like the coaches were lying to him” – Daniels (a Florida alumnus) said he will not dissuade his students from playing for the Gators. “I can’t hold a grudge forever and I still talk to Coach [Will] Muschamp,” he said. “I would never steer a kid away.”

» Former Florida wide receiver Stephen Alli was selected with the second pick in the sixth round of the 2013 CFL Draft by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers over the weekend. Alli, who would have been chosen higher had he committed to playing in the CFL next season, will instead attend graduate school and continue his education at UF.

» He may currently be a free agent hoping for the opportunity to continue his NFL career, but former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow received a shred of good news this week when Forbes named him the most influential athlete in the United States. “A unique set of QB strengths and weaknesses and an affinity for wearing his Christian faith on his sleeve combine to make Tebow a compelling public figure, even as an NFL backup,” staff member Tom Van Riper wrote.

Check out 14 more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 17 Gator Bites for Tuesday, May 7

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Josh Evans – Path to 2013 NFL Draft: Jacksonville

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.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to 2013 NFL Draft: Jacksonville

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Jaguars choose Gators S Josh Evans in seventh round of 2013 NFL Draft; Bucs trade for Demps

Round 6 – No. 169 (overall)
Josh Evans, S
Jacksonville Jaguars


Height: 6’1″ – Weight: 207 lbs.
Age: 21 – Class: Senior

Just moments after a pair of Florida Gators were selected at the end of the fifth round, safety Josh Evans received a phone call from the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team decided to make him the No. 169 overall selection – the first of the sixth round – in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Jacksonville had been after Evans for quite some time and even contacted both him and his agent on three separate occasions in the week leading up to the draft. Evans, who penned a Path to the Draft blog exclusively here on OGGOA, said he felt “a lot of love” from the Jaguars throughout the process.

“I just want to say it’s an honor and privilege to be in this situation and be a part of a great organization like the Jaguars,” Evans said. “I’m somebody who’s committed whether it’s special teams, defense, wherever I’m needed I’m coming out there to make the best of my opportunity, to go out there and be able to compete.”

Though Evans may have been overshadowed a bit by Matt Elam in the back of the Gators’ secondary, NFL teams took notice of his ability over the last few months. He showed out in a big way at the 2013 NFL Combine and earned some added attention with an impressive performance at Florida’s Pro Day.

Evans improved in each of his four years with the Gators and showed some promise as a junior after head coach Will Muschamp took over the team and began personally coaching the safeties. He played in all 13 games and made eight starts in 2011, ending the year with 51 tackles (fifth-most on the team), a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. He took an even bigger step in his development during his senior campaign as he started all 13 games and led Florida with 83 tackles (4.5 for loss), registering two sacks, three interceptions and three pass defenses.

“It helped me a lot,” Evans said of Muschamp’s tutelage. “Having those guys a part of my life my last two years at Florida really changed my career and it helped me for the next level as far as being able to anticipate certain calls and being in different situations at game time. Checking definitely on the back end with the safeties, pretty much being the quarterback of the defense.”

The eighth Gators player drafted by the Jaguars in franchise history, Evans is the first to be selected by Jacksonville since Derrick Harvey (No. 8, 2008) but the third defensive back that has been chosen by the Gators in the last eight years. Dee Webb (No. 236, 2006) and Reggie Nelson (No. 21, 2007) are no longer with the franchise. It is the first time Florida has had two safeties have been selected in the same draft.

The New England Patriots on Saturday traded former Gators running back Jeff Demps to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for RB Legarette Blount and a seventh-round draft selection. Demps, who informed the Patriots that he wished to run track and would likely miss at least training camp (if not a few games), was jettisoned by New England to the team that wanted him most as an undrafted free agent last offseason. The Buccaneers will likely give Demps an opportunity to contribute to the team though it is unknown how his track desires will affect his ability to make the squad.

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Florida Gators 2013 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

OGGOA LIVE COVERAGE – April 25-27 – Florida Gators in the 2013 NFL Draft

Former Florida Gators are expected to come off the board quickly and often during the 2013 NFL Draft with the team assured of having at least eight players drafted over the three-day event for the first time since 2010. Florida has a legitimate chance to set a new school record with 10 or more players chosen from April 25-27.

As fans of the 32 NFL teams look on nationwide, those supporting the Gators are just as excited to see where the players they used to watch on Saturdays will be playing on Sundays in the fall.

The fact of the matter is that few things are certain when it comes to the NFL Draft. Trades can occur at any moment and each team views its most pressing needs and what each player on its board brings to the table differently than analysts do. Rather than try to predict the unknown variables and tell you what could happen, OGGOA is here to set your expectations for what should go down Thursday-Saturday.

» Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd will be the first Florida player selected but may fall short of being the highest-drafted player in program history.

Over the last few months no first-round player has seen more hype as it relates to his rise in the draft than Floyd, who started the process as a pick in the teens or early 20s and is now believed to be a consensus top-10 selection and the top player at his position in the draft. Most mock drafts heading into Thursday have Floyd slotted at No. 3 overall to the Oakland Raiders; a selection there would make him the highest-drafted player in Gators history, tying him with DT Gerard Warren (No. 3 – 2001), wide receiver Wes Chandler (No. 3 – 1978) and quarterback Steve Spurrier (No. 3 – 1967). However, there is no guarantee that Oakland will stay at No. 3 overall; in fact, multiple reports on Thursday have the Raiders preferring to trade back in the draft because the front office has so many holes to fill on its roster. Should Oakland move out of its spot, Floyd could still go No. 3 overall (to a different team) or may even fall to the bottom half of the top-10 depending what other moves are made. The only thing known for sure is that Floyd will be the first (and possibly only) Florida player drafted on Thursday and will be the first Gators defensive lineman selected in the first since Derrick Harvey (No. 8 – 2008).

Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2013 NFL Draft viewer’s guide

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: It’s Time

The 2013 NFL Draft is set to take place from April 25-27, and Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans has kept you up-to-date on his Path to the Draft over the last three months via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s second-to-last entry covers his final week as an amateur, which included another meeting with a prominent NFL franchise, multiple conversations with teams and the final preparations before he, his family and friends celebrate the conclusion of his journey either Friday or Saturday. Be sure to check back next week for Evans’s final entry as his Path to the Draft finally comes to a close.

Last week after my last entry, I met with the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday and Friday over here in New Jersey. Secondary coach Ed Donatell and I first met on Thursday night, went to dinner and had a nice conversation. We then went back to the hotel he was staying at in order to go over defensive schemes. They asked me to learn their personnel and philosophy of how they run things there. And then on Friday, when they worked me out, it was pretty much just a simulation of communicating and running the signals that we discussed on Thursday. It was almost like I had to take homework home and study my notes, learn a whole new scheme. Some of it was similar but some of it was different as far as what they called things. I had to learn it their way and then recite it back to them while showing what I could do on the field.

I have not had any more meetings since the one with San Francisco but did have a webcam interview this Tuesday with the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator [Bill Davis] and defensive backs coach [John Lovett]. We discussed what I have been up to recently, where I have been training and how I was feeling physically. We also went over their schemes and how they see me fitting into their system.

Aside from San Francisco and Philadelphia, other teams I spoke to within the last week include the Dallas, Minnesota, Seattle, Jacksonville and the New York Jets. I had conversations with all of those teams but also received calls from others that were making sure they had the correct draft day information for me – my birthday, what number they can reach me at, where I will be watching the draft.

Continue Reading » Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: It’s Time

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