For former Notre Dame safety Max Redfield, the road to Italy’s Firenze Guelfi has been long

When former Notre Dame and Indiana University Pennsylvania safety Floyd ‘Max’ Redfield re-signed with Italy’s Firenze (Florence) Guelfi following a 2020 non-starter season due to the pandemic, it was an indication that things may finally be taking a turn for the better.

For Redfield, a former  five-star recruit coming out of Mission Viejo High School in California, it was a step that was a long time coming. The road back to the field has seemed unending, and filled with twists, turns and potholes.

When he came out of high school, the 6’1″, 200 pound safety had colleges drooling over him with over 18 major FBS schools vying for his commitment, with USC and Notre Dame as the front runners. After a verbal commitment to USC, Redfield was wooed by Notre Dame recruiters and made his decision final in early 2013. 

The highly coveted Redfield had equally high expectations coming into his freshman year where he was to challenge for a starting spot. Instead, he saw a significant amount of bench-time due to a healthy amount of experience in the secondary. 

In 2014, Notre Dame underwent a coaching shake up and a new defensive coordinator stepped in, installing a pro-style defense which Redfield admitted in an interview was harder than learning Chinese, a language he actually minored in at the time. Some inconsistent play from Redfield and a few injuries caused him to be stuck in a revolving door until a monster game in the Music City Bowl game win over LSU, which featured the likes of NFL stars Will Fuller and Leonard Fournette. Redfield was named to the All-Bowl Team by NFL.com, CBS, and ESPN.

By 2015, the hype surrounding Redfield was back entering his junior year, and big things were expected of him. Although a broken wrist in the season opener against Texas stifled his play that year, Redfield fought through injury still finishing the regular season as a presence in the box and a tackling machine. But, just before the Fiesta Bowl, Redfield was sent home for violation of team rules which came out as a lack of punctuality – The Fighting Irish went on to lose 44- 28 to Ohio State.

Photo: Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Coming into his senior year, Redfield was determined to become the player everyone thought he would be. And he did just that entering fall camp, with head coach Brian Kelly singing his praises:

I hate to throw clichés around, but he’s been that guy that everybody was hoping for out of high school. He’s playing at that level. He’s at an elite level.” 

In late August 2016, disaster struck as Redfield was in a car with four other Notre Dame players that was pulled over for speeding and a broken taillight. Marijuana and a loaded handgun were found in the car. Two days after the arrest, Redfield was kicked off the team. After pleading guilty in March 2017 he received one year on probation.

Redfield reflects on his time at Notre Dame saying:

“My time at ND was filled with so many great experiences and more importantly people that I am still connected with. Unfortunately my head coach Brian Kelly didn’t want the best for me or my teammates so it was never a comfortable environment. It felt like I was consistently in survival mode. I also made some bad decisions which had a big impact on my career there and the perception of who I am.”

In June 2017, Redfield decided to finish off his collegiate career by committing to Indiana University Pennsylvania (DII) where he recorded 78 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 4 interceptions and 9 pass break-ups over 13 games. He speaks fondly of Indiana University

“IUP felt like home and a rebirth. The head coach Paul Tortorella was a true leader and I had my most successful and fun year by far. I achieved All-American status at both schools, but at IUP we won 13 straight games and made it to the National Semifinal. The game before this I dislocated my hip and we lost the next game. The love and support there was amazing.”

After attending the 2018 NFL combine Redfield had proved on multiple occasions to be an outstanding physical presence at the highest collegiate level but went undrafted due to a checkered past. 

 “I was told by multiple NFL teams that my “reputation” was hurting my chances and not my talent. After my junior year at ND [Notre Dame] I was considered a 1st round draft pick. My agents also were not the best.”

Redfield was named an Under Armour All American Photo: Bud Elliott (SB Nation)

Towards the end of 2018, Redfield signed to play in the newly-formed Alliance of American Football with the Birmingham Iron where he quickly cemented himself and the team as one of the best in the league. Featuring players such as Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Due to financial issues, the league folded in 2019.

Redfield, still eager to show what he can do, signed with Firenze in 2020 along with ex Indiana University Pennsylvania teammate Mike Pietropola. With the pandemic cancelling the 2020 season. Redfield re-signed with Guelfi for 2021 together with Norfolk State University (DI) starting running back Gerard Johnson.

Redfield had this to say:

“The Covid situation prevented me from playing my first international season which was truly heartbreaking. I want to show the world what I can do and inspire people of all walks of life.

“But the Covid situation gave me the opportunity to grow stronger and more solid within my mind, body, and soul and I am coming into this season the best version of myself. From the first play to the last play in the championship that we will win, Italy and the whole world will witness the type of person and player I am.

“I chose Italy because I was called to the city of Florence and I felt the opportunity to impact the city off the field was also great because I am heavily involved in a lot of different business and see great possibilities by bringing resources and connections from the U.S. Florence is also historically a very powerful city in many different aspects and this was very attractive to me.

Italy’s Division 1, like the rest of the world, has been struggling with social restrictions limiting the amount teams can practice. With the season set to kick off April 10, Redfield remains confident in Guelfi’s chances as the team still trains three times a week, poised to take the field against Milano Seamen April 17 for his first European appearance. 

“We have been getting better and better over the last year and more importantly our trust for each other has grown greatly. We believe in each other and want the best for each other so we have a very strong foundation.”

Check out Max Redfield’s college highlights here:

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He has played football for the London Warriors for the last 15 years as well as the