Sporting heavily bandaged hands and a shaved head, Max Staver was given a funny nickname.
“Everyone started calling me ‘Vladimir the Russian boxer,’” Staver said. “It looked like I was wearing two boxing gloves.”
Staver is a quarterback, not a boxer. Ideally, college football programs like to sign at least one quarterback per class and Staver is the signal caller in the Florida Gators’ Class of 2013.
Although he’s played quarterback since he was seven-years-old, there was a moment when his high school coach tried to make the now 6-foot-5, 242-pounder a defensive end.
It didn’t work out too well.
It’s how he ended up in the boxing gloves.
Staver had performed well as a quarterback on the freshman team his previous season but the coach at John Paul II High in Hendersonville, Tenn., “threw me off a little bit” by trying Staver at defensive end.
He would end up only playing three plays at the position.
It was the season opener against Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor and Staver was lined up against a future SEC offensive tackle.
“I got destroyed the first play,” Staver said. “Then the third play was a stretch play to my side and I was trying to defend the reach block. I had my right hand on the running back and it got caught in his jersey as he pulled away and it tore both flexor tendons in my ring finger.”
Staver needed surgery on his throwing hand and it would be some time before he was able to grip a football again. The injury required a 16-week rehabilitation process that included things like working with Silly Putty and Play-Doh while also using cocoa butter to keep the scar down.
Because he was “overusing” his left hand, Staver developed a cyst in his wrist that also would require a minor procedure to have it drained. That’s when he got the mitt on that hand.
“It was probably three or four months after the injury before I could even pick up a ball again,” Staver said.
Staver moved to Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy for his junior season. He completed more than 63 percent of his passes for 1,872 yards and 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions. As a senior, he led BA to a 9-3 record by passing for 1,948 yards and nine touchdowns and rushing for 298 yards and six touchdowns.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong offered Staver a scholarship after he camped there as a sophomore. That began a pattern of Staver earning scholarship offers from each place he camped as he drove all over the southeastern region of the U.S.
Once he received an offer from Florida, his recruitment essentially was over as he accepted the offer with a verbal commitment that remained solid throughout the process.
Staver explained in a GatorCountry.com article why he chose Florida, talking about how Florida had “hot girls” and “good football.” His comments made the Internet rounds and the feature received more than 20,000 unique views, making it one of GC’s most read stories of 2012.
“There’s no doubt Florida has pretty women and as a student athlete, of course that’s something you look for,” Staver said. “It was pretty funny. A couple of guys gave me crap after saying that but I was just being honest.
“I wasn’t trying to be inappropriate or anything like that. I was just being very complimentary.”
Staver also is complimentary of the signing class the Gators have assembled that could end up the No. 1 signing class in the country once the dust settles on Wednesday’s national signing day.
“I’m real proud of what the coaches have put together,” Staver said. “The coaching staff has done a great job. After the first couple of guys committed we just kept building off of that and I’m happy to be a part of it.
“I got to hang out with some of the guys and they’re all really great guys. I’m excited about it. I think we’ve got a great class full of great student-athletes. There’s a reason it’s the best class in the country.”