Maye out to silence critics

CLEMSON – The chip on Brandon Maye's shoulder has reached immense proportions over the last eight months.

During that time he's come under serious fire from the Clemson faithful, suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and has moved from the starter at middle linebacker to a candidate for the starting weak-side job.

Despite finishing third on the team in 2009 with 103 tackles from the MIKE spot, Maye felt the heat after the loss to South Carolina and the disappointing ACC Championship defeat at the hands of Georgia Tech.

"A lot of people were real down on me, talking about I'm this, that—too slow. That's nonsense. I come out, work hard and play hard," he told CUTigers after Thursday's skills and drills workout.

Out of Davidson High School in Mobile, Ala., Maye entered Clemson with quite the chip on his shoulder. Just a two-star prospect by, he was considered the 76th-best strong-side linebacker in the class of 2007.

Since day one at Clemson he's set out to prove the doubters wrong.

"It's the same guy that had two other offers. It's the same two-star they're relying on that's going to do this and that," Maye said. "Then, all of a sudden, they feel like that guy's capable of not doing it anymore.

"Nothing's changed. I'm still out to silence the critics."

Unable to atone for the final two losses of the season in the Music City Bowl, he was limited to just two plays against Kentucky because of the foot injury. Maye had to shut it down and give way to Jeremy Campbell and Corico Hawkins.

The injury lingered over the next couple months and forced Maye out for the first week of spring practice. That's when Hawkins took over the starting job at MIKE and Maye was moved over to WILL.

The spring exit meeting with defensive coordinator Kevin Steele reassured him that everything would be OK.

"He told me it didn't matter which group I was running. He just wanted to give me reps," Maye said.

As a matter of fact, the move hasn't been so bad for the red-shirt junior.

"I'm working at that WILL position and seeing things a whole lot better," he said.

A self-described team player, Maye has no regard for which position he plays.

"It's one of those things: I'll play MIKE, SAM or WILL. I know all three of the positions. Coach Steele knows I know the positions," Maye said. "I can come off the edge. That's all I did in high school, so I hope I get the opportunity to come off the edge a lot. I think I'm going to play exclusively at the WILL position."

But following the end of the spring semester, he wanted to head back home to Mobile for some much needed respite. With an ACC Academic Honor Roll honor and a few Dean's List semesters to his name, Maye had earned the right to take off for Summer I.

The break from Clemson allowed him to recharge, both mentally and physically.

"I got a chance to work out and kind of clear my mind to start focusing on my body—speed, agility—all of that," Maye said. "I kind of broke myself down; got bigger, faster and stronger."

His unique workout regiment ranged from yoga, wrestling and swimming to running on the beaches of Mobile.

The Gulf oil spill put an end to the enjoyable morning and evening runs on the beach. But that was the least of his worries. The well-being of friends and family had been compromised.

"It's tough," Maye said. "It was a big hit to our seafood industry. A lot of people were upset about that, local fishermen were upset."

The impact on the local economy hit close to home.

"I have two uncles that are fishermen. Both of them are basically out of business. There's no work right now. They're basically getting paid by BP to work cleaning up the oil spill," he said.

Still, everyone back home presses on.

"They're starting to get everything cleaned up. It's crazy down there. It's messed up all the beaches," Maye said. "It's one of those things that's a process. Everybody's working hard trying to get the oil off the beaches."

Like everyone back home, he will press on.

"I'm going to silence the critics. That's what I'm going to do," Maye said.
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