Gophers receiver KJ Maye said it hit him last week, following the 27-0 loss at Northwestern. After one more game, he’ll be halfway through his senior season.
“Gotta make this one count,” Maye said, looking forward to Saturday’s game at Purdue.
He certainly made the Purdue game count last year. With the Gophers trailing 38-29 late in the third quarter, he ran a corner route, caught a perfectly placed pass from Mitch Leidner, turned, and dived over a defender into the end zone.
“I play it in my head,” Maye said. “My mom always brings it up. She went crazy.”
It was Maye’s first career touchdown. After that, Ryan Santoso hit a 52-yard field goal, giving the Gophers a 39-38 victory.
This year, Maye has 21 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Coach Jerry Kill said the team needs to continue getting the ball in Maye’s hands.
“We’ve got to play to our strengths right now,” Kill said.
Maye welcomes it. He’s also eager to show what he can do as a punt returner, filling in for the injured Craig James. The coaches had been withholding him from special teams to keep him fresh.
“But now my time is here, so I’m ready to go,” Maye said. “It’s just the excitement. Being back there by yourself. You’ve got your guys blocking for you, and you know you’ve got a job to do. The next thing you know, you’re rolling around people, and you probably can take it to the house.”