2008 an Adventure for Evans

ORLANDO – Considering how distant Bryan Evans' early season goals now seem, he could easily call 2008 a disappointment. Instead, he describes it as an adventure.

Evans has seen more peaks and valleys than almost anyone on the Georgia roster this season. A starting cornerback in August, he was passed by Prince Miller on the depth chart then moved to safety after a dismal performance against Vanderbilt. Now Evans is hoping for one more chance at success in Georgia's final game of the season.

"I didn't have the year that I wanted at corner," Evans said. "I started off pretty good, but the last two games, I kind of fell off, and moving to safety to me, it's like starting over. It's another chance to show my skills and show what I can do."

Evans had played safety as a true freshman, but he was redshirted and never saw the field. He had been a fixture at corner in 2006 and 2007, but that all changed when Quintin Banks suffered a season-ending knee injury, further depleting an already thin group at safety.

Just as things became desperate in the safety rotation, Evans was at a low point at corner, having struggled in consecutive games. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez approached Evans with an idea: To move to safety and jumpstart his career.

"Playing cornerback is probably one of the toughest jobs on the field," said Prince Miller, Evans' close friend and fellow cornerback. "If you make a mistake, everyone sees it. He did have a rough time, but I think he's taken it well. He's had to swallow his pride a little bit."

It wasn't how Evans wanted his season to play out, but once the writing was on the wall, he didn't waste time lamenting the unpleasant circumstances.

Miller and Evans are roommates and have spent hundreds of hours together during the past three seasons discussing the ins and outs of playing cornerback. Once the change was made, however, Miller said Evans never made his new circumstances a primary topic of conversation.

"We probably talked about it maybe once when he first made the move to safety, and that was pretty much it," Miller said. "He knew he couldn't just go hide in a hole and things would just get better. He knew he had to come out and work hard to get better, and that's what he did, and he hasn't said anything else about it since."

As it turned out, there really wasn't much for Evans to complain about.

Once the change was made, the junior found he actually liked his new surroundings. While his speed is legendary among Georgia's defenders, Evans felt he wasn't able to exploit those skills as well at corner. He's a student of the game, too, and at safety, that knowledge comes in handy. What Evans does best made him a good corner, but he thinks his skill set is perfect for safety.

"I really didn't have a problem with playing safety," Evans said, "but once I got back there and started playing, I really enjoyed it, and I look for big things next year."

Georgia's veterans have been impressed with Evans' midseason transition, too. Senior CJ Byrd has made Evans a pet project, and sophomore Reshad Jones said Evans is well ahead of schedule in his development.

"He's coming along real well," Jones said. "Bryan's been here for three years, so he really knows the Georgia system. It wasn't that big of a transition, and he's catching on really well."

Evans said he still has details to learn – "bits and pieces," he calls them – before he is ready to be attack the safety position the way he did cornerback. He hopes the offseason gives him the time he needs to finish his training, however, and by the time Georgia opens fall camp in 2009 – when Byrd has moved on and a starter's job is open – Evans expects to have the same lofty goals for next season that he had this year.

"That's my whole goal," he said. "I didn't move here to sit on the bench, so I'm going in like it's my spot. If somebody takes it, so be it, but until then, I'm looking at it as my starting spot."


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