Maze Doesn't Lack For Confidence

As one of several wide receivers Tide coaches hope will help take some pressure off all-star Julio Jones, Marquis Maze feels he's up for the challenge. After all, Maze caught five passes for 87 yards in Bama's final spring scrimmage at Bryant-Denny Stadium before an A-Day crowd of 84,050.

SEC defensive backs will soon know Marquis Maze if they don't already, and when they meet the 5-9, 171-pounder they are likely to have a fight on their hands.

"I think I can catch every ball that comes my way," Maze said shortly after Alabama spring practice. "I think every receiver should have that mentality. Not just me; every receiver."

Maze shared the MVP award at Alabama's A-Day game with his quarterback, Greg McElroy.

"It means a lot, because I've come a long way," Maze said, "from playing a lot in the beginning of the (2008) season, to then not playing as much toward the end.

"I think I showed coach (Nick Saban) that I can be a guy that they can look for to make plays."

Maze finished the 2008 season with 11 catches for 137 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He had an incredible one-handed grab against Clemson nullified in the season opener.

Asked about the progress of quarterbacks McElroy, Star Jackson and Thomas Darrah, Maze didn't hesitate.

"I think all three of them played pretty well. Greg (McElroy) stands out the most, because he was more comfortable, and he has a little game-time experience."

Tide fans won't soon forget that Maze shared in big moment in McElroy's "game-time experience," as the two connected on a late 34-yard touchdown pass to cap the 36-0 beating of in-state rival Auburn.

Maze said he has two areas he plans to focus on as the summer progresses: "My route running, and just the weight room."

An area he feels good about after spring workouts is one not often mentioned with receivers unless you talk to coaches.

"I feel I did pretty good with my blocking, "said Maze. "My blocking has always been pretty good. I've always been one of the best blocking receivers on the team."

Another dimension Maze adds is running the reverse, a chore he carried out twice for 47 yards in the spring game. He told the press that that play had been installed a week before.

"It worked out pretty well, because I played running back in high school (at Tarrant), so me just taking a hand-off reminded me a lot of high school. I just use some speed, and do what I have to do to get around the edge."

He had nearly 3,000 all-purpose yards and over 30 touchdowns during his junior and senior prep seasons. As a senior, Maze had more than 1,200 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns, despite playing only six games due to an injury.

As a junior, he ran 95 times for 1,109 yards and 19 touchdowns. Maze averaged 11.6 yards per rushing attempt as a junior

On defense, Maze made 26 tackles and six interceptions as a defensive back, and he added three kickoff returns for touchdowns.

Though he can see it happening down the road, the redshirt sophomore said he's in no hurry to take over Tide kick return duties just yet. At least not on punts.

"No, I'll leave that to 'Javy' (Javier Arenas)," he said. "I'll try to take over next year (in 2010)."

That said, it would not be a total shock to see the shifty, speedy Maze back with Arenas on kick-off returns this fall. Time will tell.

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