GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s defense received big news Monday for next season.
The final two undecided juniors, linebacker Jarrad Davis and and safety Marcus Maye, chose to return for their senior years instead of opting to enter the NFL draft.
Davis recorded the second-most tackles (98) and a team-high seven quarterback hurries for the Gators in 2015. Maye finished fourth on the team in tackles (82) and had an SEC-leading five forced fumbles, earning him First Team All-American honors from USA Today Sports.
With Davis and Maye coming back, the Gators will have two experienced veterans for a 2016 defense that lost more than half its starting lineup from this past season. Defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard, linebacker Antonio Morrison and nickel back Brian Poole are gone as seniors, while cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, defensive end Alex McCalister and safety Keanu Neal were three of five juniors who left early for the NFL.
Maye will lead a secondary that returns three other proven defensive backs in Duke Dawson, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson. Florida’s 2013 linebacker class could finally realize its potential this year with a healthy Alex Anzalone, Davis, Daniel McMillian and Matt Rolin.
UF also has the depth, talent and recruits on the defensive line to withstand the loss of Bullard and McCalister, giving the Gators a chance to field another elite defense in 2016.