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Florida’s Marcus Maye picked by New York Jets in second round of 2017 NFL Draft

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Another team with few Gators in its history picks its first of the century.

NCAA Football: North Texas at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Several Florida Gators could hear their names called on the second night of the 2017 NFL Draft this Friday. The first one belonged to a guy who isn’t there: Safety Marcus Maye, drafted with the 39th overall pick by the New York Jets in the second round.

Maye, like first-rounder Jarrad Davis, made plays for most of his senior season at Florida after passing on early entry to the 2016 NFL Draft, and, like Davis, had injuries end his season prematurely. For Maye, it was a broken arm suffered against South Carolina that kept him out of Florida’s final four games.

But, again like Davis, Maye acquitted himself well in pre-Draft workouts, especially at Florida’s Pro Day in March, and had years of good tape to rely on despite not finishing his final collegiate campaign on the field. Known as more of a coverage safety than a hitter, Maye is likely to pair with fellow Jets draftee Jamal Adams as the back line of coach Todd Bowles’s secondary.

Maye is the the first Gator drafted by the Jets since 1992, when center Cal Dixon went to New York with a fifth-round pick. He is also, somewhat surprisingly, the first Florida defensive back taken in this NFL Draft, with cornerbacks Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson still waiting to be selected.

The most important fact about Maye to relate this week, though, is the reason he’s not in attendance at the NFL Draft, despite being invited to Philadelphia: His graduation from Florida is this weekend, and he promised his mother he would both get his degree and walk across that stage, so he shared the moment of getting drafted with them at home in Brevard County.

When he strolls across the stage in Gainesville this weekend, he will do so with an NFL dream come true on the other side.