Florida junior offensive lineman Martez Ivey should "flourish" in his first season at left tackle, Gators coach Jim McElwain said on Tuesday.
The former five-star recruit, who played left guard in his first two seasons, is poised to make a major statement in terms of the NFL Draft. NFLDraftScout.com rates Ivey as the 21st-best overall prospect and the third-best offensive tackle behind Oklahoma's Orlando Brown (No. 7 overall) and Texas' Connor Williams (No. 14).
"Tez is a natural left tackle. That's what he was coming out," McElwain said at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. "It speaks volumes to his unselfishness that he went in there and played at guard, knowing that we needed that to happen."
McElwain said he inherited only four scholarship offensive linemen when he joined Florida for the 2015 season, and he needed Ivey (6-foot-5, 305) in the interior of the line to piece together the best unit. Ivey's opportunity to move to left tackle this season came when David Sharpe left early for the NFL, and was selected in the fourth round by the Oakland Raiders.
"I think he'll really flourish now," McElwain said of Ivey. "He has that ability to move on the outside."
NFLDraftScout.com notes Ivey's "imposing frame with a thick lower half and surprisingly light feet" and writes that he "is at his best retreating in pass protection, showing patience, balance and agility to mirror rushers. He shows power to move opponents off the ball in the running game and is quick to climb to the second level but gets too far over his skis and struggles to hit moving targets."
Ivey earned second-team All-SEC honors last season from the league's coaches.