Last month, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini named four players to be captains for the 2013 football season. Only one of those four, Ciante Evans, plays defense. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior from Arlington, Texas, takes none of his duties — captain, cornerback and nickel back — lightly. As part of the secondary that led the nation in opponent pass completion percentage, Evans knows his crew will be relied on while the young front seven gains experience.
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Q: The secondary is one of the most experienced areas of this team. Do you feel further along in camp at this point than a year ago?
A: Yes, I think so. I think we've had very good communication, especially the past couple of days. Guys are more comfortable playing with each other. They're in the right spots, communicating. We have a feel for one another, so we're flying around pretty fast.
Q: How is the front seven coming along?
A: They're evolving, they're coming along. We just have to communicate from the front to the back and from the back to the front so everybody's on the same page. I think when we communicate we're a very good defense. That's what those guys are starting to understand is that communication is key.
Q: You're a starting corner in the base 4-3 and you also play quite a bit of nickel back. What's your favorite spot on the field?
A: Probably the inside. You get to do a lot of different things. You get to blitz more often, you get to drop into coverage. You get to do different things as compared to corner when you're out there by yourself the majority of the time. I don't have a problem with it, but I like inside.
Q: This being your senior year, is there a great sense of urgency, not necessarily in terms of a championship, but in playing well and building toward this year?
A: I've just been trying to get better day by day. I don't really try to look forward or look into the future and think, “I need to play good.” I think that just comes along with playing in this defense; everybody needs to play good.
Q: Is there a specific area where you've been looking to get better, whether it's footwork, position on the field?
A: Really just everything. Finishing, competing, just trying to get that ball out every time. Sometimes you're going to give up catches. (I'm working on) trying to get the ball out, trying to create more fumbles, just things like that.
Q: Are you spending any more time working on things like stopping the run or blitzing more?
A: I'll take on any challenge, I'm a competitor. If they send me on a blitz or even just run stop, I don't mind sticking my hat into a ball, trying to make a tackle.
Q: Has there been any noticeable difference with having captains being named ahead of time?
A: I think it does. Guys really look up to us, I think they look forward to us setting the tone for each practice. Communicating, giving great energy and just flying around to the football. When you set that tone, guys follow your lead. It's been very helpful.
Q: Is that lead, that example, something that you've been setting in film room and other places?
A: Yeah, I try to get those guys, especially in the film room, to take notes, especially when coaches emphasize it more, when they repeat things. It's obviously some point of importance, so I just try to get guys to write it down, take more notes.
Q: You ever catch anyone nodding off or not paying attention?
A: (Laughs). A few times, especially two-a-days, you've got to be up here at 6 a.m. Some guys have some weary eyes.
Q: How do you handle that?
A: You've just got to stand up. You tell those young guys stand up, go stand off to the side, try to get it standing up.
Q: When going against your offense, do you have a sense of how good they can be? You've had to play against them before. Are you seeing improvement there, too?
A: Yes, especially the wide receiving corps, I think they're just better. From quarterback to O-line to wide receivers, this offense, the sky's the limit for them. Even beyond the sky, space is the limit. Those guys are phenomenal on that side. We're very blessed to go up against them every day.