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In the coming weeks, Inside the Gators will be taking a look at members of the 2012 signing class who redshirted last season by talking to the people who know them best. Up today is former Rivals100 safety Marcus Maye.
As a freshman at Western Carolina, Tracy Biggs was undersized and not quite ready for the demands of college football. He was redshirted and said it was the best thing that ever happened to him. All of Biggs' attention was placed on getting better on the field and transitioning from high school to college.
That's a story Biggs told Florida safety Marcus Maye well before he ever left for Gainesville. As an assistant coach for Maye's former high school team, Biggs serves as a mentor for the safety who comes from a single-parent home.
"I use to share all the different things about my redshirt year and how it was a positive for me so I could be ready for that following year," Biggs said. "We talked about that quite a bit."
Watching Maye in high school, it didn't seem like those discussions would ever be relevant. He was the nation's No. 70 overall prospect and a sure-fire first-year contributor at Florida. The night before National Signing Day, Maye tore his meniscus in a basketball game.
Maye was expected to rehab as soon as he reported to campus in June and be ready for fall camp, but when practice started, he was still playing catch-up and dealing with occasional swelling. He was often held back in drills for precautionary reasons and when the season neared, he was not in a position to be a part of the defense.
"Coming out of camp, he just didn't feel like he was fully ready to go out there and perform to his best ability," Biggs said. "He really wanted to concentrate on trying to get that knee fully 100 percent."
After never leaving the field in high school, the fall was Maye's first time watching football from a bench. Biggs could tell it was tough for Maye to run out of the tunnel at home games knowing he wasn't going to play. When he talked to Maye, Biggs didn't hear complacency with sitting out a year, but rather a player doing what he had to do with the bigger picture in mind.
Maye trained to make sure when the time came, he'd be up to speed. He focused heavily on academics so grades wouldn't be something he would have to worry about when it was his time to play on Saturdays.
"I'm sure there were moments where he would have loved to get himself into the ball game, but his plan was to play it out and let that knee get to where it needed to be," Biggs said.
Since the 2012 season ended, there has been a different vibe about Maye. His redshirt season is in the past and he knows that his immediate future is in his own hands.
Maye has had numerous conversations with Biggs over the past month about the possibility of earning a starting job with safeties Josh Evans and Matt Elam both headed for the National Football League. Biggs told him to make sure he puts himself in a situation where there is little doubt he is the No. 1 guy.
"He's really excited about how his therapy has gone. How he's gotten stronger. How he's gotten faster," Biggs said. "He's talked about his time in the film room and how he really feels confident about knowing what to do. He's home right now for spring break and still getting up at 6:30 every morning and working out. He's very confident about the upcoming year for him and how he can be a great fit for the program at the safety spot."