Evans Having A Strong Preseason At LB

Auburn senior linebacker Jonathan Evans has made a big move on defense for the Tigers this preseason.

Auburn, Ala.—For the entire preseason Auburn first-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder has talked about the need for better play and understanding from his linebackers. Now two weeks away from the season opener against Clemson at the Georgia Dome, VanGorder is seeing that from a group of veterans in seniors Jonathan Evans and Daren Bates as well as junior Jake Holland.

While both Bates and Holland were expected to be in their positions, the 231-pound Evans has come on strong in the preseason to make a run at the starting job of the strong side for the Tigers. Missing the entire spring with a shoulder injury, Evans said his experience and maturity has helped him catch up quickly in a tough defense to learn.

"I'm still learning and catching up, but everything is starting to fall into place," Evans said. "I'm starting to get my assignments and the details of the defense. I'm learning the little things.

"It feels great being back with that first group," he added. "I'm just getting down my techniques and learning the new defensive system. It has been really great so far."

Behind Bates when the Tigers opened the spring, Evans made the move to the strong side pretty quickly as he picked up more and more of the defense. Now feeling at home more every day, he said "At first I kind of moved back and forth, but now I'm at the Sam (strong) linebacker," Evans said. "Daren is on the other side at weak. It's somewhere I have played before. I feel real comfortable there."

Coming off a strong scrimmage outing for the defense Evans said the group is coming together every day and getting more comfortable. Doing more talking on the field with more experience at every spot, the senior said the goal now is to get to a point where the defense becomes second nature.

"I feel like the defense is at one of our strongest points we've been as far as communication and the defense bonding together," Evans said. "We're just flying around, getting to the ball, doing our job."

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