CLEMSON – Two days before national signing day, the Clemson football team learned it will be without one of its most experienced defenders next season.
Three-year starting linebacker Brandon Maye is leaving the program, a source close to the rising senior told The Post and Courier on Monday. The Clemson compliance office confirmed Maye asked for and was granted a release.
According to the source, Maye plans to follow the path of former Clemson quarterback Willy Korn and seek a graduate program this fall that is not offered at Clemson, allowing him to avoid losing his final year of eligibility. Maye has already faxed his release document to three programs, according to the source.
Maye is departing in large part due to disappointment surrounding his playing status.
After finishing third on the team in tackles (103) in 2009, Maye was asked to switch positions prior to last season and became disappointed with his playing time, the source said.
Maye saw his total snaps decrease from 756 in 2009, to 353 in 2010, though he missed three games because of an injury last season.
Maye has said he is a better fit at middle linebacker, where he played as freshman and sophomore, than as a weak-side linebacker, which is where he played last season.
Maye might have also feared added competition for playing time in 2011.
Clemson has a stable of young linebackers in Justin Parker, Quandon Christian and Tig Willard that figure to enjoy more playing time going forward, and Clemson is in the mix for several highly regard recruits in five-star linebackers Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony.
Clemson’s early projected depth chart includes Hawkins at middle linebacker flanked by Willard on the weakside and Christian at strongside.
Maye also sent his paperwork to the NFL underclassmen advisory committee this winter to gauge his NFL draft stock. Maye is thought to be a fringe NFL prospect.
Maye has met with Dabo Swinney. When asked if Maye was officially departed, Swinney offered no comment Monday.
Swinney figures to address Maye’s status on Wednesday, which also marks national signing day and will be Swinney’s first media availability in several weeks.