Jaguars' Evans optimistic about NFL future
Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 9:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 at 10:35 p.m.
Former Florida safety Josh Evans has reasons to feel good about the start of his NFL career.
Not only did Evans end up close to his alma mater as a sixth-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars last April. He's also entering a familiar system.
First-year Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was a former defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks and worked together with former Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Evans spent his junior and senior seasons playing under Quinn's tutelage.
“I actually got lucky,” Evans said. “Thank God, because Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley actually coached together in Seattle, so there's a lot of similarities, just a little bit different terminology on word usage. It's actually kind of similar to what we ran at Florida, and it fits my scheme of defense.”
Evans was one of three Jacksonville Jaguars players who attended the team's annual Gainesville fan caravan. Close to 200 fans showed up to get autographs signed at the event at The Oaks Mall. The Jaguars' contingent included Evans, receiver Ace Sanders, defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks and former Jaguars offensive lineman and current radio voice Tony Boselli.
Evans said he's adjusting to life in the NFL quickly. He has yet to put on pads in practice, but took part in organized team activities shortly after he was drafted in April.
“It's going really well,” Evans said. “I always tip my cap off to Dan Quinn and (Coach Will) Muschamp, those guys got me prepared for the next level. I couldn't thank them more than I do each day. It's been working out good. I'm getting the opportunity to go down there and compete. That's what they preach to me all the time, give it my all and get better each day.”
Evans enjoyed a breakout senior year at free safety for the Gators in 2012, finishing with a team-high 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3 interceptions. That put him on the NFL draft radar. In his rookie season in Jacksonville, Evans is projected to provide depth at safety behind projected starters Dwight Lowery and rookie Johnathan Cyprien.
“Right now I've been with the 2s and I'm rotating with the 1s a little bit, so just trying to get better and take advantage of my opportunity,” Evans said. “It's a long season.”
Evans got his first taste of NFL life in OTAs covering Jacksonville tight end Marcedes Lewis and receivers Cecil Shorts and Justin Blackmon.
“It's more of a faster tempo,” Evans said. “It's good-on-good each day … each day, you can't afford to have a bad day. You've got to get up and take advantage of each day and make yourself better.”
Evans' versatility also should help. He played both strong safety and free safety throughout his UF career.
“Anytime you know more, it helps your game instead of just knowing one position,” Evans said.
Being close to Gainesville also gives Evans a chance to follow the Gators more closely. He said he still talks to Muschamp and UF defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson. And he expects big things from starting quarterback Jeff Driskel next season.
“I'm really expecting for Driskel to take over this year,” Evans said. “This should be a huge year for him to take over and bring that leadership. It should be his team. And I think they are going to be on his back.
“We lost a couple of guys on defense. But the D-line is stacked. We've got some great corners. We're gonna have some new guys at linebacker, but I think they should be pretty good.”
Evans admitted he was a little disappointed with how his Gator career ended. Florida finished last season 11-2, but lost 33-23 to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
“We had a lot of distractions,” Evans said. “People were feeling sorry for themselves because we weren't in the national championship (game). Me personally, I don't think we all bought in as a team for that game. A lot of distractions going on and didn't really give it our all. We didn't play Gator football. You saw the result.”