Our Florida football position previews continue with a look at the offensive line.
It was only a matter of time before Martez Ivey moved back outside.
For his first two years with the Florida Gators, the former top offensive line prospect was pushed inside and played guard while David Sharpe played left tackle.
But with Sharpe leaving school early for the NFL Draft, Ivey is transitioning back to his natural left tackle spot for the 2017 season and is ready to take on the leadership role that comes with it.
“I’ve been here for two years and have experience,” Ivey said. “Everybody looks at me to be a leader. When we’ve got a problem, they come to me for like being their voice and speaking up.”
Ivey has been successful so far in his college career. The 6-5, 305-pound lineman played in 25 games (20 starts) during his first two seasons with the Gators and was named second-team All-SEC as a sophomore. He was a steady fixture on the line late in the season, when as many as three starters were out at any given time due to injury.
“It is a big step for him,” Sharpe said. “It is not easy at all but I think he can handle it. He is a great player.”
And now, McElwain and first-year offensive line coach Brady Davis are challenging Ivey and the rest of the offensive line to get better.
More specifically, the coaches want more energy, more aggression and more quickness from the guys up front. McElwain’s message to the offensive line in its simplest terms: Do everything right.
“It starts in the trenches,” Ivey said. “They go as we go … so we got to push the tempo, we got to lead, we got to encourage everyone around us.”
The leadership will be needed with a first year quarterback to protect and three running backs with different skill sets to block for. The offensive line will need to step up quick, and Ivey said he’s ready to take the charge.
“It’s time for us to step up,” he said.
OFFENSIVE LINE ROOM
Key departures: Tackle David Sharpe (NFL Draft), center Cam Dillard (graduate transfer)
Projected starting lineup: Martez Ivey (LT), Tyler Jordan or Brett Heggie (LG), T.J. McCoy (C), Fred Johnson (RG), Jawaan Taylor (RT)
Key Stat: 28 sacks allowed (tied for fourth-most in SEC and 17 less than the 2015 season)