Maye ready to leave mark at UF


Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 5:09 p.m.

If asked, Florida redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye will show you the scar.

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Florida defensive back Marcus Maye (20) makes a catch during a spring drill.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer

The incision mark remains on the inside edge of his right knee, where Maye underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus he suffered during a high school basketball game.

“I hate showing it,” Maye said. “I put it behind me. I don't worry about it. Once I got healthy, I don't show it to anyone anymore. I just go out and play.”

More than 18 months removed from the knee injury, Maye has put together an impressive fall camp for the Gators. He's in line to win the starting job at strong safety, replacing departed first-team All-American and NFL first-round draft pick Matt Elam.

“He's been a very productive player throughout camp,” Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “He's always around the ball. He's got a great skill set for the position.

“That's a guy we'd take over and over again at the safety position. He's long, he's rangy, he's physical and he's a smart football player. He has done a great job getting better and better with all of the snaps he had in the spring as well as with the fall. We're looking for a great year from him.”

A 6-foot, 185-pound point guard at Holy Trinity Episcopal High in Melbourne, Maye was a two-star basketball prospect who drew interest from Miami, Florida State, Texas A&M and UCF. That's why Maye opted to play basketball his senior year, even after accepting a football scholarship to UF. He tore his meniscus the night before National Signing Day.

Maye thought he could recover in time to play at UF as a true freshman. He underwent surgery the April before arriving on campus. But occasional swelling set him back during summer workouts.The Florida coaching staff felt it was best for Maye to redshirt his first season to give the knee extra time to heal.

“It definitely helped a lot,” Maye said. “I got to learn a lot. I got to watch. I got to get healthy. I watched great guys, a great team defense. Got to see how it was done.”

Maye admitted that while sitting out as a true freshman, there were some humbling moments.

“It made me hungry,” Maye said. “It made me work hard.”

That hard work has shown on the practice field. Safety was the biggest question mark for the Gator defense coming into fall camp. But Maye has alleviated some concerns by flashing his athletic ability in practice.

“He makes plays,” Florida junior cornerback Marcus Roberson said. “He's a ball hawk. We love that about him.”

Elam and free safety Josh Evans made their share of big plays for the Gators last season. Elam was picked in the first round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens, while Evans went in the sixth round to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“It's definitely big shoes to fill, because those two guys were great in the secondary last year,” Maye said. “But you know, I'm going in there, playing my own role, being myself, making plays I can make. (I'm) not getting too worried about trying to do (things) like other guys, just going out and making plays for myself.”

Maye said he's already building chemistry with Cody Riggs, who is projected to replace Evans as UF's starting free safety.

“Me and Cody, we're big communicators, on the field, off the field,” Maye said. “Great friends in the locker room and stuff like that. We're tight with each other, just like the whole secondary, the whole secondary is tight, with (Jabari) Gorman and (Jaylen) Watkins and Roberson and all of those guys. We're all one unit, all out there working for each other.”

Like the hard-hitting Elam, Maye said he's not a player who will shy away from contact.

“I definitely can get down there to make a nice hit, make a big hit to wow the crowd,” Maye said. “But if you need me to make a hit, I'll make a hit, make a pick, I'll make a pick. I can do both.”

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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