With all the acclaim bestowed upon Florida redshirt senior safety Marcus Maye, it’s easy to forget Florida’s depth at the position.

Nick Washington and Marcell Harris have risen in the ranks throughout their UF careers, as each has been a key member of the defensive backfield this season.

A four-star recruit out of Dr. Phillips High in Orlando, Harris has been a relentless force for the Gators after playing primarily on special teams during his first three seasons.

“I’m just really blessed to be out there. Every time I come out there, I try to make it the best,” Harris said. “You never always get this opportunity.” 

While it would have been easy for Harris, who had an interception and seven tackles against the Gamecocks, to grow frustrated with his lack of playing time, he said that wasn’t the case. 

He knew if he took care of what was in his control, opportunities would arise.

“I always have faith in myself and my abilities,” Harris said, “so every time I get on the field, I make it happen.”

It may have been easier than most for Harris to remain patient and let the depth chart sort itself out.

His father, Mike Harris, spent four seasons at UF from 1994-1997 as a reserve safety. While he wasn’t an immediate success, the elder Harris emerged to finish is career with 174 tackles and two interceptions in 42 games.

Now, with Maye, a redshirt senior, out for the rest of the season with a broken arm, Harris and Washington are set to carry the load against LSU and Florida State. 

When Maye went down against the Gamecocks, the pair of safeties didn’t hesitate to answer the call. 

“Nick Washington and Marcell Harris in that secondary, those guys, that was huge as well,” UF coach Jim McElwain said. “There was a real sense of ‘hey look, we got this’.” 

And that’s the nature of the beast that is college football. Injuries could hit at any time, and the experience of Washington and Harris could make or break the Gators down the final stretch. 

“He’s a senior, man. Senior Day, I hate this,” Harris said about losing Maye. “I hate to lose him on this day as well, but honestly it’s the next man up. 

“When you get your opportunity, you’ve got to take it.”