Evans put time in to get better

Florida senior free safety Josh Evans is having a great year on the field. Part of a top five defense overall, Evans and company are also ranked as the top Pass Efficiency defense in all of college football right now. The New Jersey native has been a play maker and a steady defender and has improved his game through hard work in the off-season.

For Josh Evans, last year wasn't good enough both as a member of a football team that went 7-6 and personally, where he knew he could get better. He spent a lot of time focusing on changing things in the offseason and now that preparation is paying off.

"I just have a chip on my shoulder for not having the season last year that I wanted to due to my hamstring and getting off to a slow start," Evans told the Florida media this week. "I have been motivated by my teammates and family to get better."

Even after three years on campus, Evans said he still wasn't quite mature enough a year ago to get him prepared the right way.

"I came to the conclusion that I needed to take things a little more serious," he said. "Last year I was a little younger and didn't look at things like I look at them now. Being 21 and a little older and advanced I start to take things a little more serious and try to fix my game from last year and become better than what I was."

His teammates have noticed as well. Once a liability in the deep secondary a a position that could mean a touchdown if there is a breakdown, Evans has the trust of his teammates this season.

"He has improved his tackling from last year," junior cornerback Jaylen Watkins said. "I have hardly seen him miss a tackle. Most of the time when I am trying to make a tackle he is either over there close or making the tackle I should have made. He's improved tremendously from last year."

Evans says it just took a lot more dedication to get to the level he is at now. "With more film, meeting more with my coaches, and doing the best I can do for this team and to meet our goals," he said about his change in attitude this season.

For a guy like Evans it hasn't been easy and there have been obstacles. In his first three years on campus he went through three different defensive coordinators and secondary coaches. The blessing has been to have everything intact for his final two seasons on campus.

"It is real difficult trying to adapt to one thing and then that fast it can be something totally different," Evans said about the turnover on the staff. "Where I am at now, the familiarity has helped a lot. It helps as a player to play faster, smarter, and quicker. Also teammates are allowed to play quicker and faster as well. We play better as a team.

"I thought if we could just have something consistent or just stick to the script more, it would be helpful. You can see that all the adjustments we make with the same defensive coordinator, it helps."

Evans says the team loves the guys that coach them up. More of a professional approach, the Florida staff seems prepared more often than not and looks to have really coached their players to play at a different level.

"We talk about that sometimes," he said of conversations he has had with teammates about their coaches. "We are just honored ... we have a lot of great coaches on the staff that are willing to come in and give us extra time watching film. Some of them have experience in the NFL and that is an extra point for us to get information from."

He likes the soft spoken, but effective teaching he gets from defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who spent 12 years in the NFL as an assistant coach before coming to Gainesville. He has a good relationship with the defensive play caller.

"It's pretty fun," he said of the relationship the two have. "He's a great guy and someone that I would say is a mentor (outside of) football. I can talk to him about anything that is going on back home. We can relate… he's from New Jersey so we always have little chats.

"As a coach, his knowledge for the game is overboard. He knows so much and puts me in great situations to create plays on defense and other players like Matt Elam, Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins. He puts those guys in great situations to help his defense. It's amazing the scheme he has."

Evans credits people like Quinn, his teammates and family for getting him to the point he is at now. He has leaned on all of them to be prepared for this special senior season.

"My father is alike a friend to me too," Evans said. "I sat and talked to him. I talked to the coaches and asked them what I could do better or work on my game or take it more serious.

"Jelani is like a brother to me and we talk about ball all the time. I would say family, friends, and coaches are the main factors in me going out and having a good season so far."

There are just two home games left for Evans and the rest of the seniors. Homecoming is this weekend and they will be introduced to the crowd at Gator Growl. Evans has really learned to appreciate what he has, especially during this nice senior run.

"It's going to be very emotional," he said of facing the reality of the end of his career. "You come in and never think these four years will go by so fast. Here it is before my eyes, it's my last few games here. It is the chemistry of this team that will hurt the most. Not being able to play out there with your brothers and friends. I think everything is going pretty good so that we'll all leave with good memories.

"We had our ups and downs and knew what it felt like to lose. To go through that it made us bond closer together… to go out there and be better than a year ago."

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