Florida safety Marcus Maye wasn’t able to take part in Senior Bowl practices this week as he continues to recover from the broken arm that ended his senior season, but he showed up in Mobile, Ala., nonetheless to make connections and meet with NFL scouts.
Maye, who says he’s been cleared physically and is working to rebuild muscle in his arm while getting back up to speed, kept busy this week despite not being active on the field.
“I’ve been here meeting with a lot of teams. I’ve been out watching practice, just getting it all in mentally and watching what the coaches are saying,” he said in an interview with SEC Country’s Andrew Astleford. “And I’m sitting in the meeting rooms with the coaching staff. So I’m just here soaking everything in.”
Maye said Thursday he had met with 10-20 teams during the week.
“Oh man, I’ve had a lot of them,” he said. “Shoot. The Jets, the Ravens, Kansas City. Pretty much all of them are here.”
A three-year starter at safety for the Gators, Maye broke his left arm in Florida’s Senior Day win over South Carolina and missed the final four games. He still finished fourth on the team with 50 tackles along with an interception and a sack.
He had been named a first-team All-American by USA Today and Pro Football Focus as a junior when he racked up 82 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions and 6 pass breakups. He elected to return for his senior season and has no regrets.
“It was good. I came back. I made the decision to come back. I went into the season with no regrets. I didn’t question it. I enjoyed it,” he said. “I had fun in my last year with my team. The injury sucked, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m good now.”
Maye also reflected on the season with a pair of rivals this week as Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs and cornerback Cam Sutton also took part in the Senior Bowl week. They made a point to remind the Florida safety of the Vols’ second-half rally and win in the teams’ showdown at Neyland Stadium.
“We talked about the game and I was like, ‘Yeah man, we were feeling good the first half up 21-3,’ and then the second half they turned it up. It was all fun,” Maye said.
Everything fell apart for the Gators in the second half of that loss back in September, but for the most part, the defense was excellent again in 2016. The offense, not so much.
It was clear the offensive struggles took a toll on the Florida defenders at times, but Maye said there wasn’t any divisiveness within the locker room.
“It’s always frustrating. But it’s not like you go out and point the finger. They’re your teammates, and we’re a team,” he said. “So we help them out as much as we can. We try to give them the ball as much as we can and create turnovers, create touchdowns and stuff like that. But it is what it is. And Coach Mac, he’s going to get it done. He’ll find what he needs.”
To that point, Maye feels like he’s leaving a program that is heading in the right direction overall.
“The Gators are good. Coach Mac is doing a great job. He came in last year, he took us to the SEC Championship two years in a row. So he’s just working to stay there in that position but win one (SEC title) eventually. He’s doing a great job,” he said. “He’s got some guys in early for the spring semester. So he’s recruiting the guys that he wants. So it’s going to be exciting for him.”
Maye’s focus, meanwhile, is on his future and joining the ever-growing collection of former Gators defensive backs in the NFL.
Florida sent three DBs to the pros last year. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Safety Keanu Neal, another first-round pick who also made the PFWA All-Rookie Team, and undrafted rookie Brian Poole are key defensive cogs for the Super Bowl Bowl-bound Atlanta Falcons.
This year, the Gators have cornerbacks Jalen “Teez” Tabor and Quincy Wilson and Maye ready to make an impact and carry on the “DBU” tradition as they await their draft fate and opportunity.
“I’m excited for these couple months coming up,” Maye said. “(I’m) probably about 80 (percent back to normal). I mean, I feel like I could go out and run around with those guys if I wanted to. But I want to make sure I’m 100 percent and set myself up for something good.”