Q&A with Starting RT Max Starks

Soft, not tough enough and absolutely lacking aggressive play are all labels that were slapped on him as he hurdled forward into the draft process. All 6-7, 337 pounds of former Gator tackle Max Starks frame didn't have the mean streak needed to be a starting NFL offensive lineman pundits said as he found himself drafted in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But for Starks, who found himself back in Gainesville for a semester to finish up classes and watch his former teammates on NFL Pro Day, silencing the nonbelievers is just part of the gig of competing for a starting job in the NFL.

"A lot of people said I wouldn't make it, but I didn't let it phase me," Starks said. "It was unbelievable to go out there and play in my first year and to play in my first game against the Patriots is something I'll never forget."

After the victory on Oct. 31 against New England in week 8, Starks would go on to play in every game and with 2005 around the bend, he finds himself in the thick of it for a starting job on the offensive line.

"The biggest thing for me is to be more efficient on the field, but team wise we are looking to improve through free agency and the draft to complement our team," he said. "This is a good exhibition of seniors out here as well."

As Pro Day went on, Starks said he was mainly out there to watch and support his friend Casey Griffith, but his support of the Gators program is as great as his wingspan. A university student senator during his time in Gainesville, Starks heart remains on the Florida campus, he said.

"I miss college and it's good to be back in the swing of things here," Starks said. "I'm finishing up the last couple of classes I got left here and taking some time off from the city of Pittsburgh to relax and get away from the cold weather."

His experiences at UF include playing under both Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook starting every game but one since his sophomore season.

No stranger to the coaching carousel, Starks has a good feeling about what new Coach Urban Meyer is looking to accomplish with the Gators and knows what type of person he is first hand.

"I knew Coach Meyer before he came here because he recruited me to Notre Dame and he was an excellent guy," Starks said. "I knew that when he had the opportunity to come here he would slowly change the program to where the Gator program needs to be."

Starks has witnessed first hand how hard training is in the NFL, and Meyer is striving to instill a toughness and discipline in this team that is much needed, he said.

"Coach Meyer is bringing back that Gator work ethic that should have been here the past years," Starks said. "He's instilling discipline and hard work and he is going to be very successful here."

Despite being a monster of the gridiron on Sundays, there is no other place one can find Lakeland native on a Saturday afternoon.

"I still love my Gators and I never miss a game on Saturdays," Starks said. "I need my daily fix of orange and blue."


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