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2014 UCF Recruiting Analysis
Central Florida Golden Knights
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


UCF Knights 2014 ... Head Coach: George O'Leary


UCF Knights

2013 Record: 12-1
8/29 Akron W 38-7
9/7 at FIU W 38-0
9/14 at Penn State W 34-31
9/21 OPEN DATE
9/28 South Carolina L 28-25
10/5 at Memphis W 24-17
10/12 OPEN DATE
10/18 at Louisville W 38-35
10/26 Connecticut W 62-17
11/2 OPEN DATE
11/9 Houston W 19-14
11/16 at Temple W 39-36
11/21 Rutgers W 41-17
11/29 USF W 23-20
12/7 at SMU W 17-13
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
1/1 Baylor W 52-42


- The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Revamping the backfield. Last year was the most memorable one in the brief history of UCF football. Repeating as the league champ, though, will require a new quarterback and a new running back to quickly flourish in expanded roles. RB Will Stanback is capable of offsetting a lot of Storm Johnson’s production, but it’ll be impossible to replace QB Blake Bortles this fast. The defense will again be very good, so the new hurler will simply need to play within his ability and steadily improve throughout the year.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Safety. George O’Leary definitely tried to load up in one area, coming up with a strong group of safeties with Mike Rogers and Chris Williams two good-sized hitters out of Georgia. Defensive end A.J. Wooten and JUCO transfer Lance McDowdell could wreak havoc right away, and Jamiyus Pittman is the defensive tackle of the future. Is Tyler Harris another Blake Bortles? No, but the 6-4, 210-pounder has good size and plenty of skills. WR Chris Davis will someday be among the team’s leading receivers.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 86. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive backs. The Knights are looking toward the future at quarterback with Pete DiNovo and Justin Holman two interesting passers to develop, but running back Micah Reed is the team's best offensive pickup. Linebacker Mario Mathis was a good get out of Georgia, and end Seyvon Lowry was a great recruit out of Jacksonville, but it's the secondary that's getting the most help led by safety Justin McDonald and corner Shaquem Griffin. Dorian Killings and Shaquill Griffin, Shaquem's brother, are good-sized speedy corners.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 117. That Class Was Heavy On ... A passing game. The Knights haven’t been big on pushing the ball down the field under head coach George O’Leary, choosing to mostly pound away with the ground attack. The quarterback situation is solid for the next few seasons with Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles in place, but adding more to the receiving corps would be nice. The program hasn’t gone hard after skill players in a few years, but this season that should change.
 
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 54. That Class Was Heavy On ... The defensive front seven. Release the hounds. UCF signed two terrific corners in Bruce Dukes and Jeremy Davis, and the offense wasn’t ignored, but the class is loaded with strong players on the defensive front seven. Troy Gray is a safety-sized outside linebacker who should pair with middle prospect Miles Pace to give the Knights a strong corps in a few years, while JUCO transfers Toby Jackson and Cameron Henderson should be fantastic right away at the ends. With a little time, Demetric Anderson could be an anchor of a tackle.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 63. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive line. The offense has been hit-or-miss when the running game wasn't working, and now George O'Leary is taking care of the front wall to keep pounding away. Jose Jose has more than just a terrific name, he's one of the nation's better interior line prospects and should see time at center. Torian Wilson, Justin McCray, and Jordan McCray are large guards who should grow into key cogs for the ground attack, while 6-7, 310-pound Tony Jacob will be a key starting tackle soon.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 57. That Class Was Heavy On ... defensive backs. After losing the entire starting secondary to graduation, this was an absolute priority for George O’Leary and the Knights. The program did a magnificent job a few years ago of taking two-star players, such as CB Joe Burnett, and molding them into defensive stoppers. It may not have to do much coaching up of CB Josh Robinson, an outstanding all-around playmaker, who also drew interest from Michigan, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

Tostistos Fiesta Bowl
UCF 52, Baylor 42
Basically … In a wild shootout with several twists and turns, Blake Bortles threw three touchdown passes with a ten-yard scoring pass to Breshad Perriman giving UCF the lead to break a 28-28 tie, and Bortles pushed the lead ahead with a 15-yard scoring dash. Baylor wouldn’t go away, with Glasco Martin running for a nine-yard score with just over 12 minutes to play, but UCF answered with a 40-yard scoring dash from Storm Johnson. Down 52-35 late, Baylor came up with a nine-yard Clay Fuller touchdown catch with just over a minute to play, but UCF recovered the onside kick.

Bryce Petty ran for two touchdowns – including a flipping, diving 13-yard play in the second – and he threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Levi Norwood in a fun first half. UCF was unstoppable, getting up 14-0 on two Johnson touchdown runs, and in the second quarter got two Bortles to Rannell Hall touchdown plays from 50 and 34 yards out.

- Baylor committed 17 penalties for 135 yards. UCF was flagged four times for 40 yards. - UCF outgained Baylor 556 yards to 550
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 20-of-31 passes for 301 yards and three scores with two picks, and he ran eight times for 93 yards and a score.
- UCF RB Storm Johnson ran 20 times for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
- UCF WR Rannell Hall caught four passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
- Baylor QB Bryce Petty caught 30-of-47 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns with a pick, and ran 11 times for 17 yards and three scores.
- Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk ran 17 times for 117 yards

UCF 17 … at SMU 13
Basically … In the cold and wintery conditions, UCF, who had already secured a BCS bid, did what it needed to do as Blake Bortles ran for a one-yard score midway through the third quarter and a 15-yard score late in the frame. SMU took over in the first half with a 33-yard Chase Hover field goal and a 30-yard Keenan Holman touchdown catch in the second, but the offense could only manage a 39-yard Hover field goal in the second half.
- SMU was 0-of-3 on fourth down chances and was outgained 338 yards to 313.
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 24-of-35 passes for 242 yards, and ran ten times for 31 yards and two scores.
- SMU QB Neal Burcham completed 24-of-34 passes for 222 yards and a score.
- UCF RB Storm Johnson was held to 37 yards on 11 carries.

at UCF 23, South Florida 20
Basically … UCF overcame five turnovers and an overall sloppy performance to stay in control in the hunt for a BCS bid with Breshad Perriman catching a 52-yard touchdown pass with under five minutes to play to finally give the Knights the lead for good. South Florida came up with two second half touchdowns on a 13-yard Chris Dunkley run and a one-yard Marcus Shaw run, but UCF was able to keep up on Shawn Moffitt’s third field goal of the day before Perriman’s heroics.
- South Florida committed 11 penalties for 89 yards and turned it over twice. UCF committed six penalties for 47 yards and turned it over five times.
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 17-of-26 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns with two picks, and he lost a fumble.
- South Florida RB Marcus Shaw ran 21 times for 67 yards and a score.
- UCF converted one of nine third down chances.

at UCF 41, Rutgers 17
Basically … UCF got up 21-0 on two Storm Johnson touchdown runs and a four-yard Breshad Perriman catch, and then pulled away in the second half on two Shawn Moffitt field goals and a one-yard William Stanback touchdown run for a 41-14 lead. The Rutgers offense managed just 221 yards getting helped by a blocked punt for a score late in the first half.
- UCF controlled the clock for 38:26
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 21-of-30 passes for 335 yards and a score.
- Rutgers was held to just 69 rushing yards. Gary Nova and Chris Dodd completed 15-of-43 passes for 152 yards with a pick.
- UCF RB Storm Johnson ran 16 times for 75 yards and two scores, and he caught two passes for 12 yards.

UCF 39, at Temple 36
Basically … Rannell Hall came up with a 64-yard catch in the final seconds leading to a 23-yard Shawn Moffitt field goal with no time left on the clock to help UCF escape with the tough win. Temple got four P.J. Walker touchdown passes with two to Robbie Anderson from 30 and 75 yards away, but UCF was able to keep up helped by Worton, who caught touchdown passes from four, 38 and 30 yards out, with his last one tying the game with just over a minute to play. The Knight defense forced a three-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense with 28 seconds to play leading to the wild late heroics.
- UCF WR J.J. Worton caught ten passes for 179 yards and three scores. Rannell Hall caught nine passes for 159 yards.
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 26-of-44 passes for 382 yards and four touchdowns with a pick. He also ran nine times for 41 yards and a score.
- Temple WR Robbie Anderson caught eight passes for 184 yards and two scores.
- UCF cranked up 657 yards of total offense. Temple came up with 518 yards.

at UCF 19, Houston 14
Basically … A John O’Korn pass into the end zone bounced away in the final seconds as Houston’s game-winning touchdown attempt came up short. UCF started out the scoring with Shawn Moffit field goals from 45 and 40 yards out, and following an O’Korn 24-yard touchdown run, William Stanback ran for scores from 15 and 38 yards out on the way to a 19-7 lead. O’Korn found Wayne Beadle for a 12-yard touchdown with just over four minutes to play, and got one last shot, taking off the final 3:02 getting down to the UCF seven before the final incomplete pass.
- UCF RB Storm Johnson ran 28 times for 127 yards, and William Stanback ran nine times for 74 yards and two scores.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 24-of-46 passes for 231 yards and a score with two picks, and he ran 13 times for 56 yards and a touchdown.
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 17-of-24 passes for 210 yards and a pick.
- UCF had the ball for over 35 minutes, but turned the ball over three times. Houston turned it over twice.

UCF 38 … at Louisville 35
Basically … Blake Bortles found Jeff Godfrey for a two-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds to play to give UCF a three point lead, and Teddy Bridgewater’s Hail Mary attempt fell to the turf as the Cardinals’ dream season crashed with a thud. Louisville was up 28-7 helped by two Bridgewater touchdown passes and a fumble return for a score off a botched punt snap, and everything seemed fine with 20 minutes to play, but UCF roared back on two touchdowns from Storm Johnson and a 12-yard William Stanback run as part of a run of 24 straight points before Louisville took the lead back on Dominique Brown’s second touchdown run of the day with three minutes to play. But the Cardinal defense couldn’t hold.
- Blake Bortles wasn’t perfect, but he was terrific when he had to be, completing 21-of-32 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. It took a little while to get rolling, but when UCF could’ve packed it in late in the third quarter, it turned up the intensity offensively with a sharp short-range passing game and the play of Storm Johnson to balance out the attack. All of a sudden, UCF looked a little bit quicker and stronger on both sides of the ball.
- The Louisville defense will get the blame for not being able to hang on to a lead, but the offense shares some of the responsibility. Teddy Bridgewater might have come though in the final minutes to give the Cardinals the lead, but the O stalled, and worse, gave the ball away. It was a night-and-day different game over the final 20 minutes.
- Where was the Louisville running game when it needed it? Dominique Brown averaged 7.3 yards per carry, but he only ran 12 times. Senorise Perry only ran eight times for 18 yards, and Michael Dyer continues to fail to do much running once for three yards. Bridgewater had to carry the offense completing 29-of-38 passes for 341 yards and two scores.
- Storm Johnson was the best player on the field. Of course, Bridgewater is the biggest talent, but Johnson did it all with 109 rushing yards and four catches for 79 yards and a weaving score. Louisville’s defense didn’t have any answers once the floodgates opened up.

UCF 24, at Memphis 17
Basically … UCF struggled, but it caught a few breaks late with lineman Chris martin falling on a fumble for a score to tie the game at 17 with just 2:05 to play, and then Drico Johnson took a fumble off the ensuing kickoff for the winning touchdown. Memphis got touchdown runs from Brandon Hayes and Sam Craft, but couldn’t hang on in the final moments.
- This was when Memphis could’ve made a huge, HUGE statement. The Tigers outplayed the Knights in every way except special teams, and they had the chance to pull off the big win, but they couldn’t close. Now it’s going to be really, really tough at 1-3 to find the wins needed to get to a bowl.
- Call this a hangover for UCF. After the tough South Carolina loss, the Knights didn’t show up on offense and seemed sluggish for most of the game. Fortunately, four takeaways kept them alive, and the big plays late saved the day. Sometimes, good teams need to get through games like this on the way to a conference title.
- Blake Bortles wasn’t quite right, completing just 17-of-36 passes for 160 yards, and he wasn’t able to make the passing game shine down the field. The offense didn’t go anywhere.
- The Memphis defense wasn’t able to come up with any takeaways, and there wasn’t any pass rush, but it did a great job of bottling everything up. The Tigers kept Storm Johnson to 86 yards and held UCF to 270 yards, but the offense made too many mistakes with three picks and a key lost fumble.

South Carolina 28, at UCF 25
Basically … It took a half before South Carolina woke up, but then came the running game as Mike Davis tore off three second half scores and Dylan Thompson scored on a short run. UCF had a 10-0 lead at halftime after a great first scoring drive, and Rannell Hall made things interesting late with a 73-yard touchdown catch and a seven-yard score, but the Gamecocks recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
- This was a good second half for the Gamecocks. They didn’t play well early, and then had to show they could turn things up a few notches in the second half when they needed the running game to roll. Mike Davis took control after halftime to finish with 167 yards and three scores on 26 carries.
- UCF had a chance to get up bigger early, but it couldn’t build off a great first drive and struggled to get points on the board late. Blake Bortles completed 25-of-36 passes for 358 yards and two scores with two picks, but the passing game didn’t really get moving until it was a bit too late.
- Connor Shaw got knocked out of the game early on with a shoulder injury, and Dylan Thompson struggled, completing 15-of-32 passes for 261 yards with a pick. The offense needs the rushing element under center, and that’s not Thompson.
- Jadeveon Clowney? Two tackles, one quarterback hurry. However, he was a key reason Kelcy Quarles came up with his one sack.

UCF 34, at Penn State 31, Sept. 14
Basically … Blake Bortles threw three touchdown passes and Storm Johnson ran for a 58-yard score and caught a four-yard touchdown pass as UCF hung on to beat Penn State. The Nittany Lions rallied back late with a five-yard Allen Robinson touchdown catch, but the Knights were able to hang on.
- Blake Bortles was the type of veteran quarterback UCF needed in a game in a hostile environment. He threw a pick, but he made every other right decision, frustrating the Nittany Lions with key pass after key pass to keep the offense moving. He led the way to 507 yards of UCF offense.
- Christian Hackenberg continues to be fantastic. He didn’t throw any picks, and he rallied the team back late and almost pulled it off. He completed 21-of-28 passes for 262 yards with a touchdown, and once again he looked more mature than his age.
- The Penn State defensive front struggled with the UCF quickness up front. Storm Johnson came up with 117 yards on 17 carries, but the ground game kept on slinking for four yards a pop here and there, and Jeff Godfrey came up with a big dash.
- Zach Zwinak ran for three touchdowns and pounded out 128 yards, but he lost a key fumble late when Penn State was rallying.

UCF 38, at FIU 0, Sept. 6
Basically … Blake Bortles ran for a first quarter score, threw a short third quarter touchdown pass, and handed it off to Storm Johnson for three touchdowns on the way to an easy win. FIU managed just 172 yards of total offense.
- It’s not like the Knight offense dominated. Storm Johnson finished off drives, and Blake Bortles didn’t make any mistakes, but Rannell Hall came up with 59 of the team’s 390 yards on one play. The rest of the attack was efficient and effective.
- In two games, FIU’s offense still doesn’t work. It only came up with 171 yards against Maryland and only improved by one yard against UCF. It would be nice to establish the ground game first, but it wasn’t there coming up with 29 yards on 29 carries.
- The unsung star for UCF? Caleb Houston. The freshman only punted four times, and he only put one inside the 20, but he banged the ball well and kept FIU deep.
- Where’s the FIU pass rush? Isame Faciane got into the backfield a few times and joined in on the only sack, but there wasn’t any steady pressure. The team’s five tackles for loss weren’t enough to slow down scoring drives – the D didn’t bail out the O.

at UCF 38, Akron 7, Aug. 29
Basically … Blake Bortles connected with Breshad Perriman for a 91-yard touchdown less than a minute into the game, and UCF had no problems from there scoring the first 38 points of the game. Bortles finished with three touchdown passes and Storm Johnson ran for two third quarter touchdowns. The UCF defense lost its shutout with 42 seconds to play on an 11-yard Imani Davis catch.
- Blake Bortles took target practice. Storm Johnson might have handle the ground game with 99 yards and two scores, but it was Bortles who handled the offense well and spread the ball around well.
- Akron simply couldn’t convert drives into points. Kyle Pohl was able to connect on 16-of-21 passes, but there wasn’t any pop or explosion to the attack.
- Akron was able to get into the backfield, but the pressure didn’t do enough to shake Bortles. The secondary didn’t come up with enough big plays, but Bortles also came up with a great game.
- UCF linebacker Terrance Plummer was a one man wrecking crew. He came up with ten tackles and three tackles for loss, always getting around the ball.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … for the second time in the last three years, the Knights capped a 10-win season with a bowl victory. The program feels as if it’s on solid footing going forward for head coach George O’Leary, which was reflected on Signing Day in early February. UCF is also very excited about the trajectory of QB Blake Bortles, who took flight during his sophomore year with 25 touchdown passes, more than 3,000 yards through the air and no picks in his final six games.

Why To Be Grouchy … the UCF defense, a staple through the years in Orlando, is about to undergo a mini-makeover. Not only have five starters run out of eligibility, but they were all veteran leaders and playmakers. DE Troy Davis, CB A.J. Bouye and S Kemal Ishmael earned a spot on the all-conference squad, while linebackers Jonathan Davis and Ray Shipman combined for 190 tackles. There’s talent still left on D, but the Knights are unlikely to be as stingy as they were in 2012.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … preparing Storm Johnson to be the new feature back. As a backup to Latavius Murray, the gifted Miami transfer carved out 507 yards and four touchdowns on 113 carries. Now that he’s slated to assume a much bigger role, he needs to give the Knights balance on offense. Bortles is good, as is his bevy of experienced receivers, but the quarterback is far more effective when opposing defenses can’t sit back to play the pass.

Team Concerns For 2013: The move to the Big East should be a good one with plenty of talent returning, but the offense has to be a little stronger after averaging 407 yards per game at the slightly lower level. The offensive line did the job against Conference USA teams, but it couldn't get much of a push against Ohio State or Missouri, and it failed the first time around against Tulsa. The punting game has to be better after losing Jamie Boyle, who averaged a pedestrian 40.6 yards per try for a team that netted 35 yards a pop.

Non-Conference Games: Akron, at FIU, at Penn State ,South Carolina
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 5-7
Likely Finish: 7-5

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Akron, at FIU, at Memphis, Connecticut, Houston, at Temple, at SMU

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Penn State, South Carolina, at Louisville, Rutgers, USF

Schedule Analysis: Life as a Big Easter shouldn’t be that bad early on with Akron and a trip south to FIU not a bad way to kick things off, but it’ll get rough for a bit with a date at Penn State and a home game against South Carolina. There’s a week off between the two big non-conference games, but the Knights have to go on the road for four games in five with a nasty trip to Louisville coming on a Friday night coming after a week off. Fortunately, four home games in the next five are in Orlando before closing out at SMU.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive backs. The Knights are looking toward the future at quarterback with Pete DiNovo and Justin Holman two interesting passers to develop, but running back Micah Reed is the team's best offensive pickup. Linebacker Mario Mathis was a good get out of Georgia, and end Seyvon Lowry was a great recruit out of Jacksonville, but it's the secondary that's getting the most help led by safety Justin McDonald and corner Shaquem Griffin. Dorian Killings and Shaquill Griffin, Shaquem's brother, are good-sized speedy corners.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 117. That Class Was Heavy On ... A passing game. The Knights haven’t been big on pushing the ball down the field under head coach George O’Leary, choosing to mostly pound away with the ground attack. The quarterback situation is solid for the next few seasons with Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles in place, but adding more to the receiving corps would be nice. The program hasn’t gone hard after skill players in a few years, but this season that should change.
 
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 54. That Class Was Heavy On ... The defensive front seven. Release the hounds. UCF signed two terrific corners in Bruce Dukes and Jeremy Davis, and the offense wasn’t ignored, but the class is loaded with strong players on the defensive front seven. Troy Gray is a safety-sized outside linebacker who should pair with middle prospect Miles Pace to give the Knights a strong corps in a few years, while JUCO transfers Toby Jackson and Cameron Henderson should be fantastic right away at the ends. With a little time, Demetric Anderson could be an anchor of a tackle.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 63. That Class Was Heavy On ... Offensive line. The offense has been hit-or-miss when the running game wasn't working, and now George O'Leary is taking care of the front wall to keep pounding away. Jose Jose has more than just a terrific name, he's one of the nation's better interior line prospects and should see time at center. Torian Wilson, Justin McCray, and Jordan McCray are large guards who should grow into key cogs for the ground attack, while 6-7, 310-pound Tony Jacob will be a key starting tackle soon.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 57. That Class Was Heavy On ... defensive backs. After losing the entire starting secondary to graduation, this was an absolute priority for George O’Leary and the Knights. The program did a magnificent job a few years ago of taking two-star players, such as CB Joe Burnett, and molding them into defensive stoppers. It may not have to do much coaching up of CB Josh Robinson, an outstanding all-around playmaker, who also drew interest from Michigan, South Carolina, and West Virginia.


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