Prior to joining Georgia’s football team in 2011, Maxey did everything at North Oconee. He played fullback, the position he he currently plays. But he also played linebacker for the Titans. Maxey’s high school coach, Terry Tuley, however, knows something about Maxey that Mark Richt and his staff may not be aware of.
“He’s probably their secret weapon that they don’t even know about,” Tuley said.
Prior to one practice at a North Oconee, as Tuley recalls, Maxey and his teammates were goofing around, normal teenager behavior.
“We’ve got a tower in the middle of the field and all of a sudden a ball just goes rocketing off somebody’s foot and just clears the tower,” Tuley said. “He just had this big ole grin on his face.”
Tuley decided to see if Maxey’s punt was a fluke or if he needed to give the left-footer a serious look.
“We lined up our punt team with a full rush because anybody can punch one around in the backyard and stuff like that and get lucky,” Tuley said. “By God he just absolutely stroked it, so he became the punter from then on.”
With a grin, Maxey accepted the job as North Oconee’s punter. The next step in his career would bring new opportunities, though.
In college, the Statham, Ga. native got his first shot as a linebacker on the Bulldogs’ scout team the following year.
“When he was on scout team as a linebacker he wasn’t afraid to put his hat on anybody and he was very physical,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “We’re always looking for those guys as a fullback.”
Maxey didn’t stay at linebacker very long after catching the eye of running backs coach Bryan McClendon. It was during an Outback Bowl practice in 2012 as Georgia prepared for a matchup with Michigan State that Maxey first got a chance to practice in the offensive backfield.
“That was kind of when I got a chance to finally get him over there,” McClendon said.
This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision by McClendon.
“I really noticed Maxey when he was on the scout team playing linebacker, and then he was knocking the crap out of people,” McClendon said. “So I kind of recruited him to come play for me over there from the dark side on the defense, and he saw opportunity there.”
More opportunities continued to come Maxey’s way. While the 5-foot-10, 226-pound standout remained on the scout team his junior season, his time would come.
A few weeks prior to Georgia’s season-opener against Clemson, the school’s medically disqualified the Bulldogs’ starting fullback, Merritt Hall due to multiple concussions throughout his high school and collegiate football career.
Quayvon Hicks seemed to be another option for Georgia at fullback, but the coaching staff decided to leave him at tight end, a position he seemed to be picking up well. It was Maxey’s time.
“He’s been kind of learning the position for two years and the opportunity kind of presented itself with Merritt having the medical DQ and Quayvon having to play some tight end,” Bobo said. “For him to step in that role he’s done a nice job.”
Maxey was the starter when Georgia kicked off its 2014 season against Clemson. The Bulldogs left Sanford Stadium with a 45-21 victory and an idea of what Maxey could bring them in the backfield. While he didn’t get a carry, Maxey undoubtedly did his job.
“Maxey did a real good job. He’s a tough kid,” Richt said. “He knows what to do. He’s willing and able to do it. He did a nice job, no doubt. There’s some things, obviously, that everybody’s got to get better at, but he came through for us, no doubt.”
Maxey developed a reputation for putting defenders on their backs, regardless of whether they’re linebackers, defensive linemen or safeties. He’ll run as far as he has to, a note that stood out to Bobo after watching film.
“I told Coach McClendon, I don’t know if they can see him coming around,” Bobo said. “He’s about 5-foot-9. He might be 5-foot-8. I don’t know how tall he is, but maybe those safeties couldn’t see him under (offensive lineman) Greg Pyke running out there. He snuck up on them.”
Sure, Maxey has areas to improve on if he wants to stay at lead blocker for Georgia, but learning the plays isn’t one of them. The senior fullback was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll last year.
“Well, yeah…smarter sometimes than others,” McClendon joked. “He’s very sharp. He pays attention well and he learns things very quickly and he’s a tough guy. He’s always going to have a chance to be a good player.”
Bobo was impressed with Maxey’s mental game right out of the gate. The finance major earned Athletic Director’s Honor Roll distinctions his first two years on campus, to add.
“He’s very smart,” Bobo said. “You think of a fullback as a guy that just goes in there and is a hammerhead, but they’ve got to know a lot of stuff in our offense. They’re kind of like a center in the run game and he’s able to do a lot of things within the blocking schemes, which has enabled us to be successful.”
After paying his dues on the scout team, Maxey is the starting fullback at Georgia, a distinction years in the making.
“He’s kind of just worked his way into being a very productive player, so right now he’s just got to keep it going,” McClendon said. “Obviously he’s still got a long way to go.”
Whether it’s at fullback, linebacker, or even at punter, Maxey has always been consistent.
“The one thing that you always got was just that total commitment,” Tuley said.