Evans Bulks up for Safety

ATHENS – It might have seemed like an obvious solution, but Bryan Evans said a return to cornerback was never a consideration after teammate Asher Allen decided to leave school early for the NFL draft.

Evans moved from corner to safety midway through the 2008 season, but Allen's departure meant that he was one of just two players with experience at corner remaining on the roster. Still, Evans said, a switch back to his old position was never discussed.

"Safety is my final position at this time," said Evans, who is hoping to add about 10 pounds this offseason to prepare to play the position in 2009. "So that's what I'm sticking with."

Instead, Evans said, Sanders Commings and Brandon Boykin are the early favorites to replace Allen at the short corner position. Evans said Boykins showed enough ability in reserve duty last year that he has already earned playing time for 2009, but he said Commings physical style makes him a natural fit to replace Allen.

"I always think playing short corner, you go on a lot of blitzes," Evans said. "They like to do a lot of crack plays on the short side, and I think a bigger body is always helpful, and with Sanders being physical, I think that's a big advantage to him."

Of course, a vacancy at strong safety has added more intrigue to the secondary, and it could have been worse.

Free safety Reshad Jones nearly chose to head to the NFL early, too, but changed his mind just hours before the deadline to declare for the draft, news that came as a relief to Evans.

"It kind of had me rattled for a second just because of the fact that I still had a lot to learn, and with Reshad coming back, I could have learned a lot from him," Evans said. "But since all that is done, I guess we can just finish this season off together."

Evans said he expected Jones to move to strong safety in 2009, while the free safety job remains up for grabs.

Evans, John Knox and Quintin Banks are the leading candidates for the job, and the only members of the team with any playing experience at the position. Banks only managed to get into just one game in 2008 due to injuries, but he said his rehab is progressing quickly.

"I definitely think I'll be able to go full-go during spring," Banks said. "That's my goal right now, and that's what I'm pushing in January is to get ready for spring."

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