Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Cutting dreadlocks and combine training continues

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.

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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Combine training and East-West Shrine Game

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 first entry discusses what he has been doing since the end of the season including training in South Florida, preparing for the 2013 NFL Combine and competing in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19. in St. Petersburg, FL

After the bowl game and everything, I actually went home to New Jersey for two days to spend time with my family before travelling to Boca Raton, FL to begin training with Tony Villani of XPE Sports. He’s a big name in this industry who trains the top defensive backs and some of the fastest guys at the combine.

There are a ton of other draft-eligible players working with me down here including Matt Elam, Rashard Hall (Clemson), Earl Wolff (N.C. State), Ray Ray Armstrong (Miami), Dee Milner (Alabama), Brandon McGee (Miami), Rod Sweeting (Georgia Tech) and plenty of other guys from great programs.

I’ve spent basically all of my time after the bowl game working down in Boca Raton, and I’ve already started learning a lot. Tony has been teaching me how to get more explosive on my starts, improve my leg work and get my core right. I’ve been seeing instant results as far as fixing my technique issues and learning how to push out better.

My first time running the 40-yard dash, the first week I arrived for the pre-test, I ran it in 4.49 seconds with the laser. That was my first time running it raw with no technique taught to me or anything. As far as the guys training down here, I actually ran the fastest time out of any of the safeties.

Tony has already helped me improve on that time but it is a work in progress. My goal is to get to 4.39 seconds, but he’s had guys improve even more than that down into the 4.2-second range. I’m trying to hit that number, and he’s showed statistics where his program has gotten players close to those numbers.

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FOUR BITS: Quinn, Tebow, bowls, Fisch

1 » According to ESPN insider Adam Schefter, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s new contract with the Seattle Seahawks is for three years and $5.7 million, or approximately $1.9 million per season. Quinn was set to earn just over $500,000 with the Florida Gators in 2013 though he likely would have received a raise.

2 » It has long been known that quarterback Tim Tebow will not be with the New York Jets next season. Even with that being the case, everyone involved with the decision to bring him in continues to do whatever is in their power to distance themselves from him. According to ESPNNewYork.com, team owner Woody Johnson – who fawned over Tebow when the franchise first acquired him from Denver – is the latest to pull this maneuver. He reportedly told former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist, who interviewed for the Jets vacancy, that the trade was “forced” on him and that he only “jumped on board” after the football personnel department convinced him it was a good idea. “They realized it was divisive and hard on the locker room, and they wanted an exit strategy,” he said.

3 » Former Florida safety Josh Evans and kicker Caleb Sturgis competed in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game over the weekend. Evans played sparingly on defense and special teams, but Sturgis accounted for seven of the East’s 13 points in the 28-13 loss as he connected on an extra point as well as field goals from 48 yards and 38 yards. Linebacker Lerentee McCray was invited to the game but chose not to participate as he continues to heal from the 2012 season. Similarly, LB Jon Bostic pulled out of the 2013 Senior Bowl set for Saturday at 4 p.m. Running back Mike Gillislee and left tackle Xavier Nixon will be the only two Gators participating in the game.

4 » Though two former Florida players have already lost their NFL head coaching gigs this offseason, another person with ties to the Gators has picked up a new job. Jedd Fisch, a graduate assistant at Florida from 1999-2000, was named the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. Fisch has been coaching since starting out in the high school ranks in 1997 and was most recently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Miami (FL).

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FOUR BITS: Meyer-Tebow, Shrine Game, Brewer

1 » What exactly does now-Ohio State Buckeyes head coach think of what has happened to quarterback Tim Tebow’s NFL career? “It’s a great question,” he told USA TODAY’s Robert Klemko on Thursday. “I think that his coaching transition is a big part of it, with the guy that drafted him in the first round [Josh McDaniels] getting fired immediately. Then he goes to New York and that doesn’t work out the way he envisioned.” Meyer, who claims that he speaks to Tebow each week, said he is “like anyone else” and “just waiting to see what happens” with Tebow, though he is surprised that his career has not taken an upward trajectory. “He has a unique skill set. But I have faith in Tim, and I think it will work out,” he added.

2 » The 2013 East-West Shrine Game, featuring former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis (No. 17, East) and safety Josh Evans (No. 24, East) , is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. on NFL Network. The game will air live from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL and wraps up a week’s worth of practices that saw Evans and Sturgis working in front of a bevy of NFL scouts. Sturgis met with a number of teams throughout the week and showed off his strong leg, while Evans also got some onlookers and even impressed East team safeties coach Marlon McCree. According to Rotoworld.com, “McCree mentioned Evans’s name more than any other during the four days of practice.” Note: Linebacker Lerentee McCray was also invited to the game but chose not to attend at the last minute in order to rest and heal up before the 2013 NFL Combine.

3 » CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper recently blogged about “the art of the leak out” in the NBA and used strong>Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer as the paradigm for his post. “There are few players in the NBA as opportunistic on a change of possession as Brewer,” he wrote. “In a league full of specialists … the Nuggets’ six-year veteran might be the NBA’s first transition specialist.” He continued, “There are two reasons why Brewer is so good at scoring on leakouts in transition: technique and speed.” Harper then breaks down Brewer’s unique ability with numerous video examples of what he is able to do during games. He also notes that “28.1 percent of Brewer’s offensive possessions come in transition” and “30.3 percent of Brewer’s points come on the fast break,” calling him possibly “the fastest player in the league without the ball.”

4 » As recently noted by school beat writer Scott Carter on Twitter, former Florida forward Adam Allen and walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan are doing a great job leading their new team, the Rollins Tars, to a 12-2 start to their 2012-13 season. Allen, who plays through pain and following multiple knee surgeries that ended his Gators career, is third on the team with 9.8 points and fourth with 3.8 rebounds per game while averaging just 19.8 minutes per contest. McClanahan, on a scholarship at Rolins, is second on the Tars with both 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while playing a team-high 33.6 minutes per contest. Both players are shooting better than 46 percent from downtown this season.

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Kiper evaluates Florida Gators draft prospects

ESPN insider Mel Kiper, Jr. had a busy day on Wednesday. In addition to holding a conference call with the media (including OGGOA) to discuss prospects ahead of the 2013 NFL Draft, he also released his first mock draft ($) of the offseason as well as his list of top-five players ranked by position ($).

Junior Sharrif Floyd – Defensive Tackle
Ranking: No. 5 defensive tackle
Projection: First round, No. 30 overall
Thoughts: “Sharrif Floyd I thought had a heck of a year. I think he’s solidly in the first round, at worst early second, but I have him in the first. I have no problem with that decision [to leave early] at all.”

Junior Matt Elam – Safety
Ranking: No. 2 safety
Projection: Late first or second round
Thoughts: “Matt Elam, as I said, he could be the second safety off the board. I figure late-one, early-to-mid-two. I have no problem at all with that decision [to leave early].”

Redshirt junior Jordan Reed – Tight End
Ranking: No. 5 tight end
Projection: Third or fourth round
Thoughts: “Jordan Reed can catch the football. I think he’ll have nice workouts. As a tight end he could be a third-, fourth-round pick. Could he have elevated [his stock] a little bit [by staying]? Maybe, but I have no issue with that as well.”

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Safety Josh Evans to guest blog for OGGOA

With more than a dozen former Florida Gators football players in the process of training and preparing for the 2013 NFL Combine and upcoming 2013 NFL Draft in April, four-year safety Josh Evans has agreed to join ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive as a guest blogger to chronicle his entire process from now through the draft.

Evans will check in with OGGOA each week to discuss what he is up to in his quest to raise his stock and continue his football-playing career on the professional level.

Readers will be able to tag along as Evans participates in the 2013 East-West Shrine Game, trains for the combine, meets with individual teams interested in selecting him and is eventually drafted at some point from April 25-27.

Leaving Florida closing in on a degree in criminology, Evans led the team in tackles (83) last year, registering 4.5 for lost yardage including 2.5 quarterback sacks. His 34 assisted tackles were also most on the Gators, and he added notched three interceptions, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.

Evans is the sixth former Florida player to guest blog for OGGOA. Former offensive lineman Shannon Snell and catcher Teddy Foster continue to write about football and baseball, respectively. Previous contributors include quarterback Danny Wuerffel (football), guard Adam Allen (basketball) and forward Chandler Parsons (basketball), who previously blogged his path to the 2011 NBA Draft.

Keep a look out for his contributions exclusively here on OGGOA!

You can also follow Josh Evans on Twitter by clicking here.

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FOUR BITS: Shrine, early enrollees, Floyd, Jenkins

1 » Practices for the 2013 East-West Shrine Game began on Tuesday with only two – rather than three – former Florida Gators showing up on rosters. Safety Josh Evans and kicker Caleb Sturgis were both listed on the rosters Tuesday while linebacker Lerentee McCray mysteriously had his name removed. Though not much can be taken from the first day of practices, Evans and Sturgis each got measured as part of the standard first-day procedure. Evans checked in at 6’1 1/8” and 205 lbs. with 10-inch hands, a 31 ¼-inch arm length and 77-inch wingspan. Sturgis was listed at 5’9 7/8” and 186 lbs. with 8 ¾-inch hands, a 29 ¾-inch arm length and 71 5/8-inch wingspan.

2 » Florida announced eight early enrollees on Tuesday, all of whom are four-star prospects according to Rivals, including LB Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, PA), JUCO defensive tackle Darious Cummings (Scooba, MS), four-star defensive end Joey Ivie (Dade City, FL), LB Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL), transfer offensive lineman Tyler Moore (Clearwater, FL), wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA), LB Matt Rolin (Ashburn, VA) and running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade). Among those early enrollees, Anzalone and Robinson were last-minute additions with the former player’s defection from Notre Dame coming as a surprise to UF. Furthermore, Cummings has chosen to be referred to on the Gators roster as “Bear Cummings,” using a nickname he has had since childhood.

3 » A pair of now-former Florida players have released statements thanking the school, coaches and fans for their support during their careers with the Gators. The first comes from junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who took out an ad in Wednesday’s The Independent Florida Alligator (picture via sports editor Joe Morgan).

4 » On Monday, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins sent an extra-long message out via his Twitter account expressing a similar sentiment.

I am truly grateful to the University of Florida, Faculty and Administrators, Coach Muschamp and the entire Coaching Staff, my Brothers on the Gators Football Team and GATOR NATION for all the love and support you have shown me throughout the years. All of my future aspirations will reflect the proud tradition of GATOR PRIDE AND GREATNESS

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Eight Gators seniors in all-star bowl games

A total of eight Florida Gators seniors will be participating in all-star bowl games in the month of January. Below is a list of each game and the players that are set to compete.

2013 Under Armour Senior Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Saturday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. live on NFL Network
» Linebacker Jon Bostic
» Running back Mike Gillislee
» Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon

2013 East-West Shrine Game (St. Petersburg, FL)
Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. live on NFL Network
» Safety Josh Evans (#24)
» Linebacker Lerentee McCray (#34)
» Kicker Caleb Sturgis (#17)

2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game (Tucson, AZ)
Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. live on ESPN3.com
» Wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. (#10)
» Wide receiver Omarius Hines (#5)

OGGOA will present practice and game notes from each contest. Be sure to check the schedule at the top of the right side bar each week for date and time remainders.

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