Florida will open its season at home on Sept. 5 without three players. The school announced on Friday that redshirt juniors Marcus Maye and Alex McCalister, and senior Latroy Pittman Jr., will not play in the home opener against New Mexico State, citing an undisclosed violation of team policy. The infraction isn't Pittman's first, as he also was suspended at the start of the 2013 season. The absence of these three players could test the Gators’ depth at their positions early, as first-year head coach Jim McElwain looks to start his tenure in Gainesville with a strong showing against the Aggies.
Maye is the projected starter at free safety after collecting 62 tackles, an interception, five pass deflections, forcing two fumbles in 11 games last season. Three of Maye's 62 tackles were for losses, and he led the team in tackles in games against East Carolina and Vanderbilt. In 2013 Maye appeared in 12 games – with two starts – where he registered an interception and 16 tackles.
McCalister played in all 12 of the Gators’ games last year and finished the season with 23 tackles, including nine for a loss. McCalister’s six sacks are the most among returning players. The defensive end saw action in six games in 2013 and ended that year with three tackles. He also is projected to be a starter for new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.
Pittman, a wide receiver, was carted off of the field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium last October after being hit by LSU linebacker Kwon Alexander. He returned a week later and ended the year with 164 receiving yards on 15 receptions. Pittman saw nine starts as a slot receiver in 2014 and is expected to be an integral part of Florida's passing attack this season.
— Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A Washington, D.C.-based sports writer, Hayes is a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and he also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.