- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Quinton Dunbar, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 97 Brad Phillips.
No. 20 Marcus Maye
Redshirt freshman safety
Expectations for 2013: With the departure of starting safeties Matt Elam and Josh Evans, Maye was one of the players who were supposed to compete for one of those spots. The 6-foot, 200-pound Maye is the least experienced of the group but he enters fall practice tied atop the depth chart with junior Jabari Gorman at one safety spot. The safeties struggled throughout the spring, especially with on-field communication and recognition, and the coaching staff moved cornerback Jaylen Watkins to safety. Cody Riggs, another former corner, is playing nickelback but started the spring at safety and could end up starting alongside Watkins if things don’t improve.
Best-case scenario in 2013: Maye was a playmaker in high school, rushing for more than 700 yards in addition to intercepting four passes in his senior season at Melbourne (Fla.) Holy Trinity Episcopal. If he adjusts to the faster pace of the college game, Maye will find plenty of playing time on defense and on special teams. He is the biggest of UF’s safeties already on campus and should be able to provide run support.
Worst-case scenario in 2013: The communication issue that lingered throughout spring is troubling, but UF coach Will Muschamp expects that to get fixed during August practices. Maye’s biggest problem is inexperience, which is why he might start the season behind Gorman. He’ll also be pushed by the three incoming freshmen – Keanu Neal, Marcell Harris and Nick Washington – both on special teams and on defense. This could be a season of spot duty for Maye while he continues to develop.
Future impact: There’s a lot of talent at safety, but most of it is young or inexperienced. The good news is that Muschamp coaches the safeties, and the proof of his impact is what he did with Evans, who went from a liability to a sixth-round draft pick. That means a lot of competition for playing time. Muschamp like’s Maye’s range and Maye has the potential to develop into a player similar to former UF standout Ahmad Black.
During the summer, GatorNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Florida roster -- excluding the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class -- in our Gator Breakdown series.