2014 UCF Preview: What You Must Know
UCF CB Jacoby Glenn
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About UCF(Getty Images)
What You Need To Know
- 2014 UCF Preview
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer
What you need to know about the offense: Life after Blake Bortles begins in 2014. The identity of the successor to the third overall pick in May's NFL Draft, though, remains shrouded in uncertainty. The Knights auditioned three quarterbacks in the spring, Justin Holman, Pete DiNovo and Tyler Harris, without a true leader being declared. To make matters even more interesting, a fourth contender, Boise State transfer Nick Patti, joins the fray in the summer. UCF doesn't harbor a player of Bortles' caliber, but it does hope to have someone who can make the most of a very good supporting cast. William Stanback is capable of supplanting Storm Johnson as the feature back, without skipping a beat. And the corps of receivers could be the best among teams outside the power conferences. Coordinator Charlie Taaffe's other concern this summer will be up front, where three starting linemen have graduated. Replacing Bortles will be tough enough. Filling his shoes when the pocket regularly collapses will be next to impossible.
What you need to know about the defense: The defensive prowess shows no sign of letting up in Orlando. The Knights, who've held opponents below 23 points in each of the last five years, return 18 of the 21 defenders who made at least one start in 2013. Mark it down for six years in a row. Sure, there are areas for improvement, such as the run defense and the red-zone D. But no one ought to be lulled into a false sense of security. It's going to be very hard moving the ball on rookie coordinator Tyson Summers' defense, especially through the air. The Knights return all four defensive backs, including a pair of all-stars, from a group that ranked No. 20 nationally in pass efficiency defense last fall. Summers is actually UCF's third defensive head since the end of last year. Jim Fleming, who did a solid job with the Knights, left in December to take the head coaching job at Rhode Island. And just a couple of months after being hired, Paul Ferraro left the program on March 6 for what was described as personal reasons.
1. LB Terrance Plummer, Sr.
Plummer is the prototype at linebacker for the Knights; he's only 6-1 and 241 pounds, but his range and instincts put him in a position to make a ton of plays. He was everywhere for UCF in 2013, collecting a team-high 110 stops, 8.5 tackles behind the line, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, six pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Plummer is a heat-seeking menace, never far from the ball and often doing something to alter the momentum of a game.
2. CB Jacoby Glenn, Soph.
The program couldn't be much happier with the development of Glenn, who returned from an injury to become the Knights' most outstanding defensive back as a rookie. He debuted with 52 tackles, three stops for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and 15 pass breakups to earn First Team All-AAC. The 6-0, 178-pound Glenn is so confident and smooth in coverage that it's hard to believe that he's only had one season of action at this level.
3. SS Clayton Geathers, Sr.
Geathers has always had a nose for the ball. And he has the resume to back it up. He's made at least 100 stops in each of the last two seasons, including 100 a year ago to go along with two picks, 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Geathers is a hard-hitting 6-2, 208-pound defender, with the athleticism to track down ballcarriers from behind. After earning Second Team All-AAC in 2013, he's eyeing more national notoriety in his final year in Orlando.
4. WR J.J. Worton, Sr.
UCF is stacked at wide receiver. Worton, though, is the only returning Knight with all-star chops, earning a spot on the 2013 All-AAC Second Team. The 6-2, 209-pound former walk-on caught a career-best 47 passes for 721 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, including a highlight-reel one-hander that helped to fend off Temple. Worton is the perfect accomplice to his speedy teammates on the outside, tough and sure-handed, with no aversions to crossing the middle of the field.
5. WR Rannell Hall, Sr.
Hall is a more experienced and polished version of teammate Breshad Perriman. In other words, he's an NFL-caliber pass-catcher as well. While Hall's calling card is his blazing speed, he's become increasingly precise with his routes and reliable with his hands. The results of the progress were a team-high 57 receptions for 886 yards and five touchdowns, as well 14 carries for 121 yards and another score. While the 6-1, 200-pound Hall moves like a jackrabbit, he's not built like one.
6. WR Breshad Perriman, Jr.
Perriman already looks as if he'll soon be playing on Sundays. And he's only halfway through his college career. The junior has it all, save for some tweaking on the finer points of his game. He's 6-2 and 214 pounds, with long arms, big mitts and outstanding ball skills. Oh, he's got pedigree, too, as the son of former Miami Hurricanes and Detroit Lions star Brett Perriman. Breshad showcased his jets and big-play ability a year ago with 39 receptions for 811 yards and four touchdowns.
7. OG Torrian Wilson, Sr.
The Knights' best offensive lineman is on the move this offseason. Wilson, who's been starting at left tackle since midway through his freshman year, is shifting inside to left guard. The relocation will not only maximize the 6-3, 305-pounder's skill set, but it'll also create opportunities for up-and-coming tackles Michael Campbell and Chester Brown. Wilson has the clean technique, work ethic and foot speed to get noticed by NFL scouts this season.
8. FS Brandon Alexander, Sr.
Now that Alexander has completed his journey from cornerback to free safety, he plans to build on it in 2013. The three-year starter finished fourth on the team with 63 tackles, adding three stops for loss, seven pass breakups and a team-best three interceptions. At 6-2 and 195 pounds, he has the long frame and wingspan needed to deflect balls that otherwise would be caught. The self-made Alexander was nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to the top player who began his career as a walk-on.
9. RB Will Stanback, Soph.
Storm Johnson will be missed, but not nearly as many assume thanks to the 2013 development of Stanback. As a rookie coming off the bench, he earned Second Team All-AAC honors by rushing for 443 yards on 105 carries, catching 15 passes, scoring seven times and contributing on special teams. While speed helped Stanback land a UCF offer, the 5-10, 205-pounder has impressed the coaching staff with his physical, downhill style of running.
10. DE Thomas Niles, Sr.
The defensive line will be an area of concern throughout the offseason. The staff is counting on Niles to bring stability and disruption to the pass rush. He was voted the team's Outstanding Defensive Lineman of 2013, making 30 tackles, eight stops for loss, a team-high four sacks and eight hurries. The 6-2, 270-pound fire hydrant may be built like an undersized tackle, but he moves with the quickness and suddenness of an end. Niles also has a knack for getting beneath the blocker's pads to gain leverage on his man.
11. CB Jordan Ozerities, Sr.
There were doubts about Ozerities before the 2013 season began. He answered those concerns by holding up the new starter at cornerback. Despite getting picked on by quarterbacks who chose not to challenge Jacoby Glenn on the other side, Ozerities delivered with 59 stops, 4.5 tackles for loss, a pick and six pass breakups. The 5-10, 191-pounder, like all of the UCF defensive backs, is a willing participant in run defense.
12. C Joey Grant, Jr.
At this time last year, Grant was making a closely-watched switch from defensive tackle to center. Today he's the glue of the offensive line. Grant made a smooth transition as a 13-game starter, committing surprisingly few mistakes. While only 6-2 and 285 pounds, he's a solid run blocker, with one of the highest football IQs on the team. The steady presence of Grant at the pivot will provide a calming influence to whichever young quarterback replaces Blake Bortles.
- 2014 UCF Preview