Florida’s Ivey to tend to unfinished business

Offensive lineman Martez Ivey wants to improve his NFL draft stock in 2018 and graduate from Florida following the season. [The Associated Press]

For a five-star prospect who started as a true freshman and has three years of productive play in the SEC, there’s usually a clear and obvious path to take — straight to the NFL.

Florida offensive tackle Martez Ivey took a hard, long look down that path, and has decided he’s not quite ready to take it.

He has other things he wants to accomplish at Florida before he gets on that road to professional football, including getting his degree, improving his craft and his draft status, and helping turn the program back in the right direction under a new coaching staff following a disappointing 4-7 season.

“I thought about it a lot,” Ivey said of his decision to return for his senior season. “The first thing I thought about was school. I wanted to graduate. I didn’t want to have to come back to school (to get a degree) after the NFL.

“I had a chance to go to the NFL, but I also had the chance to go back to school, get my degree and enhance my draft stock a little bit.

“On the football aspect, change was happening (with Dan Mullen and the new coaching staff). I knew everybody else was coming back, and we have a sour taste in our mouth after going 4-7. It just didn’t feel right. We have to finish what we started.”

Like all of UF’s draft eligible underclassmen, Ivey turned paperwork into the NFL to get an idea where he might go in the draft if he elected to come back.

He made his decision to return after getting information back from the NFL and discussing it with his family.

Ivey said he would rather not reveal what the NFL told him, but he does now have a plan on what to work on heading into, and during, his senior season.

“I want to always work on doing the small things right, developing my craft,” he said. “Working on a lot of technique stuff, just the small stuff.

“And actually learning the game. I’ve been here three years now. I’m able to sit down, draw up some pressures and be able to check plays in my head. Understanding play calling, essentially.”

Ivey’s decision to return certainly is good news for the offense and the offensive line in particular. Now that he’s back, the Gators’ top 10 offensive linemen from last season return.

After getting off to a disappointing start in the opening-day loss to Michigan, the offensive line regrouped and eventually did become a team strength, especially in the running game.

Expectations will be high for the offensive front in 2018.

“We can be as good as we allow each other to be,” Ivey said. “We’ve got to be locked in, got to know the playbook, got to know the calls, got to know our rules. Just stay focused.

“Physical wise, I believe we should be able to dominate up front. But you’ve got to learn the game first. I believe we’ve got so much experience now on the o-line that we’ll be able to take the next step. We’re going to keep getting better and better.”

The offensive line, like every other position group, is now under a new direction with the new staff. Ivey said he hasn’t had an opportunity yet to spend much time with Mullen, line coach and co-offensive coordinator John Hevesy or any other of the assistants because they’ve been busy recruiting and house hunting.

But the players have gotten a chance to know Nick Savage and the strength and conditioning staff. Savage has reiterated what Mullen told the players when he first took the job in November — the offseason conditioning program is going to be physically and mentally demanding, like nothing they’ve ever experienced before.

“We’ve talked to some of the strength guys and how they’re going to make everything competitive and make us work, and pretty much put us through hell,” Ivey said. “I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s something we need. It’s going to help us become a better football team. It’s going to make us stronger as a whole unit. You’re going to see guys struggling and still continuing to fight, continuing to work hard.

“It’s going to be a whole different atmosphere, because we’re going to have a whole new level of trust and belief in each other.”

Ivey said he anticipates there will be no problem with players buying into the new, more demanding approach because of what happened last season.

The Gators will be motivated by 4-7 and all that went with it — player suspensions, injuries and the coaching change.

“In football, not everything is easy. You have to face some adversity,” Ivey said. “You’re going to face adversity. It’s about how you handle it and come back from it.

“Last year doesn’t define us as a team. But what will is how we come back from it.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.


  1. Refreshing for one of our players to come back. So many leave early, ready to or not. Here’s hoping your knees are strong and you have a great SR season, lots of great memories(and a degree!) from UF, and a high draft pick in 2019, Martez.

  2. Marterz Ivey has been a huge bust. He hasn’t been “productive.” He’s been as mediocre as the rest of UF’s offensive linemen. He came back because the NFL advised him to. The NFL only advises if a prospect is projected to be drafted in the first two rounds. If they arew not, like Ivey, they are told they should stay in school. Ivey, unlike a lot of fools that don’t listen to the NFL’s advice, is smart to return to school. Who knows? Maybe he will finally live up to the five star hype, when he was the consensus top offensive lineman coming out of high school, this year. I applaud hu is decision to return. It shows he’s not an idiot like so many others that will either not even be drafted or go in late rounds where they will just become low paid, by NFL standards, cannon fodder to be used, and discarded, by the NFL in a couple of years. Ivey and Jefferson are a rarity. They actually listened to professionals, instead of friens, fans, family, etc. that have no idea what they are talking about.

    • Ivey has been a very mediocre player his whole career here at Florida. When he committed, I thought he would be the KEY to Florida getting some of the BEST O-lineman coming out of this state. NOT! he didn’t perform and we NEVER got another 5 * lineman to commit. All of the best O-lineman leave the state to go elsewhere, that is a trend we need to turn around. I’m VERY glad he realizes that he was not ready to be a good PRO prospect. Now make yourself and others better with strength, technique, and leadership.

    • Yeah Tebowcurse, there’s probably truth in what you say and I took your excellent comments in that context. Put differently, that part probably accounts for 60-70% of the factors that went into his decision. The other 30-40% though strikes me as good ju-ju too. Obviously an intelligent young man who wants an education instead of “just a ticket”, has broken the “team code”, and now clearly sees where he needs to improve and finally, how to go about that. As pertains to being a “huge bust”, dunno…..clearly hasn’t lived up to his assessed potential for sure, that being based on his 5-star entry. I’d call it a “disappointment”. We both can think of other Gators under the last two regimes who also came in with the same stars and….well….didn’t live up to them either. The number of stars a youngster comes in with is one thing, but how they’re developed is yet another. Probably less so on Muschamp’s regime, particularly on the defensive side–but he didn’t own this one. Let’s see what the off season does, and then we’ll know for sure. In any event, like you, sure am glad he’s staying for his last year. Go Gators!

  3. He has the right attitude. He wants to get better and leave on a positive note. I think he’s a great person who will be a part of the resurgence of the football program, long remembered as a guy who helped get the ship turned around. He is ready and eager to enter the Savage Land and be transformed into a Warrior. This is all good for him and the team.

    He and the other players were long betrayed by MacnCheese, who lavished them with empty praise and neglected teaching them the hard lessons they needed to be their best selves. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Ivey is ready, the teacher has appeared, and the Warrior is ready to be born again!

    • I totally agree that they as well as the fan base were sold a LOT of B.S. from the previous staff (MAC), we all believed the B.S. until we saw the product that was on the field. I hope Mullen just tells it like it is, if we are looking 3 – 4 years down the road be honest and say “we got a ways to go” not we are ready this year to be NC.

      • You’re repeating the same propaganda propagated after Muschamp was fired. McElwain was, along with the staff he hired, was goingh to fix all the woes. Maybe Mullen s the answer, but I’ve never been impressed with him. It was only two years ago that he, along with a lot of the guys he brought with him, lost at home to South Alabama. He was, after all, not a highly, or even mildly, sought after coach. That’s why hwe was stuck in Starkville for nine years. But, and this is reality, it doesn’t really matter now. UF is stuck with Mullen for, at least, four years. IF If UF gets rid of Mullenbefore he finishes his third year, like they did with McElwain, UF is, like in this last coaching search, is not going to be viewed favorably by any coach with other optoions. UF has established itself as the place where blue-chip QBs go to die. It needs to not let that perception apply to coaches as well.

        • Muschbrain was a defensive co-ordinator with no head coaching experience who has admitted that he made epic mistakes in his first head coaching job. He was hardly a blue chip hire, and South Carolina is seeing now the same erratic boobery that made him fail here.

          MacnCheese looked good on paper, but he turned out to be a deranged liar who surrounded himself with inept assistants and thought he getting blown out by Bama was some kind of epic accomplishment. He is a clown and will never get another big time college football job. Maybe some perennial backwater will hire him and celebrate his weird, crooked teeth, but unless Jeremy Foley gets another AD job at an elite school (he won’t) Mac is now known as a mediocre coach and a fraud who goes around making claims that everyone is threatening to kill him when actually we just wished her would try getting his teeth whitened.

      • Mullen is already telling it like it is, and he will help these players live up to their best selves! I am happy for these players that they finally get a real coach and not a fat friend who just like hanging out with players because he thinks they are “cool.”

  4. As painful as the last ten or so years were, id argue its been arguably the third best era in the history of the program. no fourth and dumbs, no major probations, no giving up 9 interceptions and 66 to auburn. We’ve had plenty of 4 win seasons and worse in the history. I wanted more, but we produced a coach that almost won a super bowl (dan Quinn), a ton of nfl guys, a few minor championships and bowl game wins, a great qb – grier – for a few games, plenty of excitement and a couple of times when it looked like we were going to really start rolling, and then the ole nirvana song (something in the way) would show up. I just don’t agree that we are going to go nowhere. Maybe Dan Mullen didn’t win a national championship but he gave this years champion 55 minutes of hell without having to allegedly steal the playbook and had plenty of impressive wins at a place far less desirable than Gainesville, he is a much better fit than champ or mac imo. OK we may need a while to fix some problems, were not the only ones. Only one team has been consistently great this last ten years or so. Ivey has had at least 2 coaches in 3 years, a lot of seasoning, and so what the braintrust talked him into staying in college. Isn’t that a good thing? I’m glad he’s coming back. I thank all of the guys that stayed for being willing to go forward here.

  5. the thing I’m most impressed about Mullen is that he bluntly says “were going to train these kids hard physically….and mentally”. The mental part, I know I need it, most of the fans need it too, if he can get the minds of these kids to leap forward, that’s the ticket imo. Sure there are limitations, im not one that thinks you can teach Franks to see downfield, but this team can be a lot better mentally. we can communicate better, be more humble and be more assertive at the same time, be more determined to push forward every second of every training session, practice, game and in life too….this can be more fun. I’m sure part of Martez’s coming back is a belief he can make a leap forward right here….look for him to do just that.

    • I think the offseason conditioning program, which looks like it will be what we had under Meyer , will be a huge difference. The players will be bigger and stronger and thus more able and confident and able to mentally push themselves harder(because they will be doing it in conditioning and that will carry over).

  6. Ivey is doing what he thinks is best for himself which includes things that will benefit UF! A win all around. Credit to him and his family. I encourage him to be a player of significance, help lead this team, and be a supporter of Mullen…make a difference! Go Gators!