Showers Comfortable in UF Defense

There were times in 2011 where Valdez Showers felt in over his head. The complexities of the defense that Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn installed were unlike anything the freshman had seen. Year two is different. Even though two upperclassmen starters block him, Showers is comfortable at safety as he goes into his second season at Florida.

"I'm way (more) comfortable," Valdez Showers said. "When I first came in, it was overwhelming. I'd never been in a defense that was so complex. I really had to learn it — the schemes and concepts of it. There are techniques that you have to know every time and be correct about. You can't be wrong about it or it can tear up the whole defense.

"Now, I feel like I've got the hang of it."

Muschamp wanted to challenge the redshirt freshman at the start of fall camp. Instead of practicing with the experienced players during the first days of practice, the head coach sent Showers to the practice field with the incoming freshman.

It wasn't a demotion or a knock on Showers' ability. Muschamp wanted him to get experience as a first team safety to see how he would handle making the calls for the defense. If he practiced with the veterans, Showers would be stuck behind Matt Elam and Josh Evans. The two experienced safeties are the leaders of the secondary and trusted with getting the defense in line.

Pushing Showers to the group of younger players would give him an opportunity to become that player while also putting him in charge of freshmen that didn't have his knowledge of the defense.

"I actually needed it to work on the calls and getting more comfortable with it," Showers said. "I felt that I improved a lot since the spring. I'm getting a lot better at it."

Evans has been a valuable asset for Showers, who is also working at free safety. Evans is going into his second year as a starter at safety and has been able to help the redshirt freshman when he struggled early in his career.

"I can learn a lot from him just because he has been through it all," Showers said. "He has been through two coaching staffs. He has been out there experiencing a lot of different things."

Showers took a redshirt in 2011 but worked on the scout team throughout the year. He could see action on special teams this year and spot duty at safety when one of Evans or Elam isn't on the field, although that shouldn't happen often.

The overall unit has been a positive so far this fall.

"This defense can be very good, especially with the people we have in it," Showers said. "As long as everyone is on the same page, it's going to be a great defense."

A big reason for the expected defensive success this year is the returning players in the front seven. The pass rush has been a point of emphasis this offseason, and Showers thinks it will be improved in 2012.

"For the secondary, that means a lot of interceptions hopefully," the redshirt freshman said with a smile. "With our front seven and the way they're playing, they are great. They're going to be real good, pressure the quarterback and hurry up the quarterback. It's going to make easy moves for us."

Showers wasn't always sure he would be a part of this Florida defense. There was speculation in the offseason about him switching to play offense. He grew up playing running back and ran for 2,024 yards and 29 touchdowns as a high school senior in Michigan.

"I was asked by a couple people that work in the building if I would ever want to go back to running back," Showers said. "I wouldn't have a problem with it because I grew up playing running back. I really like safety now. I kind of fell in love with safety a little bit."

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