Maye, Washington step up in place of Marcus Maye

University of Florida senior safety Marcus Maye is carted off the field after breaking his arm on senior day / Gator Country photo by David Bowie When Marcus Maye went down awkwardly in the first quarter against South Carolina the landscape of the Gators’ defense changed. Maye broke a bone in his left arm, ending not just his season but also his career with the Florida Gators.

Maye is third on the team in tackles (50) and has been playing at a high level this year. He’s provided versatility, being able to play down in the box as well as Florida’s single high safety.

“He’s a senior, man. Senior Day, I hate this. I hate to lose him on this day as well, but honestly it’s the next man up,” Marcell Harris said. “When you get your opportunity, you’ve got to take it. I sent prayers up for him, and hopefully everything turns out fine for him.”

Stepping up in Maye’s place are redshirt juniors Marcell Harris and Nick Washington. Harris, who had been rotating with Washington all season, played the best game of his career after Maye’s injury. Harris finished the game with a career-high seven tackles, one for a loss and his second interception of the season.

It’s been a long time coming for Harris. His tackle total from Saturday matches his entire redshirt freshman season and his 35 tackles this season are more than he had through his first two years combined.

“Honestly man, I’m just really blessed to be out there. Every time I come out there, I try to make it the best,” Harris said. “It could be taken away from you in a quick second. So every time I get out there, I lock in. I execute and I go about the gameplan. Play with the defense and make my plays that I need to make.”

Washington is also having the best season of his career. He’s currently fourth on the team in tackles, and leading the team in tackles among players that will be available this week. Like Harris, Washington has more tackles this season (39) than he did his first two seasons combined (33). McElwain knows that with five starters on defense missing this week the duo at safety will need to stay focused and prepare the same way.

“Nick (Washington), played at a high level, man. It was fun to see. Now, here lies the question: Can you put two back to back? Right? You could go rub their bellies all they want. They can go feel good about themselves but maybe not prepare because they think they’ve arrived,” McElwain said. “I think the key is when you play well, is reflecting on the reasons why you played well. When you look at it ultimately it’s about your ability to prepare to go out and be successful. You know what, they’ve got their work cut out for them this weekend.”