UF picks up 15th verbal commitment


Published: Monday, July 18, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 at 8:46 p.m.

Marcus Maye has looked up to Reggie Nelson for a long time.

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Holy Trinity Tigers running back Marcus Maye sprints for a first down on the road against the Cocoa Beach Minutemen. (Justin Dernier for Florida Today)

Nelson was a highly touted free safety from Melbourne. So is Maye.

Nelson has the speed and coverage skills of a cornerback in the body of a safety. So does Maye.

Nelson played for the University of Florida. So will Maye, who became the 15th verbal commitment to UF's Class of 2012 on Monday.

Nelson plays in the NFL. And that is where Maye hopes to follow.

"He went to high school with my brother," Maye said. "I used to hang out with him and (former Gator defensive lineman) Joe Cohen when I was younger. I watched them play in high school and then watched them play on TV. Just knowing them and the things they accomplished in life — playing in the NFL — is something that I want to accomplish."

Maye has continued his relationship with Nelson and Cohen through the years. They still occasionally drop by his house during the NFL offseason and have shared lots of stories, thoughts and feelings about UF.

"Of course they did," Maye said, smiling. "I told them that Florida was definitely a spot that I was very interested in. They didn't force it. But seeing the success they had at the University of Florida is something I want to have as well.

"I saw how those guys love Florida."

Through five unofficial visits to UF Maye has seen it all — the campus, the facilities, the dorms. He's met all the coaches, met some players and fellow recruits.

It's been well known that Maye was strongly leaning toward Florida. He picked the Gators over Florida State and Alabama, the two other schools in consideration, but it wasn't really close.

"I always felt great about being up here," Maye said. "Being around the coaches, being on campus and just being in Gainesville. Every time I came up here I always had a better feeling about (Florida). It's always been in my heart. We just finalized things today."

Maye talked to his mom after every previous visit and brought her Monday to meet the staff, see the campus and get her blessing.

"She's a Florida fan, so she's very happy and excited," Maye said. "I always had a good feeling. I always had it deep in my heart that I could definitely see myself playing in Gainesville."

Head coach Will Muschamp, who coaches the safeties, and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson also were strong influences on Maye.

"The track record that Florida has with defensive backs is definitely something that caught my attention," he said. "Those two guys, being the secondary coaches, we talked a lot. We talked about everything, not just about football but life itself."

So the Gators have another safety for their Class of 2012. Maye's commitment comes on the heels of Shelby, N.C., Crest strong safety Rhaheim Ledbetter's verbal to Florida on Friday.

"I was very excited when he committed this past Friday," Maye said. "He called. I haven't gotten to talk to him yet. (Ledbetter) at strong safety, me in the secondary, Brian Poole at corner, try to get Tracy Howard to play on the other side at corner. That's a pretty good secondary right there."

Maye, 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, is a consensus four-star prospect. He is rated the No. 7 safety in the nation by Rivals and 247Sports, while ESPN and Scout rate him the 13th best in the country at his position.

"They're getting a great athlete, period," said Holy Trinity assistant coach Tracy Biggs. "His strengths are he's very intelligent, his vision — he sees the field tremendously — and his ability to react. He's a very, very fast learner. But I think the biggest thing for him that's going to help the University of Florida is that he's like a field general."

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