UCF and Coach George O’Leary expect big things from the 2008 recruiting class down the road, and a select few are primed to log serious playing time this upcoming season.
Running back has been one the most exciting positions to watch this preseason, as a group of heralded freshmen are expected to help soften the blow of losing All-American Kevin Smith. As O’Leary has stated numerous times, there is no replacing Smith, but the team will rely on several true freshman to attempt surrogate Smith’s production. After redshirt freshman Ronnie Weaver, UCF will rely on three to four freshmen to carry the load.
Brynn Harvey, Latavius Murray, Brandon Davis, and potentially Brendan Kelly will all get plenty of reps the upcoming season. Each of their skill sets have been well documented at InsideKnights.com, but things are starting to clear up some at the position.
"I think if I lined them up tomorrow it would be Weaver, Harvey, Murray, and then Davis, and I think the Kelly kid will have a bright future," said O’Leary.
Harvey started camp off slow, but once the pads went on he became a lot more comfortable, and appears to be the most poised and explosive back of the freshmen. Murray’s ability to block, catch and run between the tackles makes him a valuable asset to UCF, and Davis’ quickness and surprising strength should allow him to get reps as a change of pace back and on special teams. Kelly, originally recruited as a tight end, has shown a lot of promise as a fullback/power runner, but the team might go with the more experienced Ricky Kay at the position.
There are also about three other freshmen who could see the field somewhat frequently in 2008. Vance King, a three-star running back/safety who has been seamlessly converted into a receiver.
“The King kid has a chance to be a 6th receiver,” said O’Leary.
Even in the beginning on camp, senior receiver Rocky Ross has been impressed with King’s raw physical ability.
“Vance King came in as a running back last week, I didn’t even know they were switching him to receiver. He’s come out here and we’ve had to help him out the huddle, but he’s made some good plays. He had a nice deep ball, a nice curl.”
As Ross said, King made some terrific plays early on and has continued to do so through the preseason. He seems eerily natural at the position, as he runs polished routes and has very consistent hands. While King must become familiarized with the playbook and the intricacies of being a receiver, he has a bright future and could contribute immediately.
Two of the biggest surprises of camp have been defensive tackle Theo Goins and tight end Kyle Madden.
“The Goins kid has a chance to be a 5th tackle inside defensively, that and the Madden kid, I like what I see from him, I am going to start to look at him [Madden] more,” added O’Leary.
Goins has been impressive in individual drills and has the size and quickness to break into the rotation. Madden has turned heads with his toughness and overall ability as a well rounded tight end.
Steven “Moose” Robinson, a guard from Tallahassee, might also have the chance to enter the offensive line rotation as a backup. O’Leary previously said that he liked Robinson and thought he could play early.
This group of freshmen has high expectations and they all have the ability to make an impact for a very talented and deep UCF team. O’Leary seems pretty confident with the players that are most likely to see the field, and rightfully so.
“Those are probably the freshman that I see helping us, and that is the way it should be, five or six guys out of the class.”
Brendan Sonnone is a senior writer for InsideKnights.com, covering the UCF Knights for Scout.com. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.
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