From what I’ve seen early this summer, it’s safe to say that the Knights will be better than last year. With 10 returning starters on offense and the majority of a stacked defense intact, UCF should be a contender for the C-USA title in 2009. While the Knights will be relying on returning players to get them to the promise land, there are some newcomers that will certainly make some sort of contribution.
Here is my complete breakdown of the players at camp from the 2009 recruiting class, as well as grey shirt players from 2008.
Nico Flores, QB- I was weary about Flores when he first came in after a disappointing senior campaign. He looked decent on film and was rated at three-stars, but his unorthodox release (looks like he’s throwing a shot-put) certainly was concerning. After watching him in action, it’s clear that Flores is the quarterback of the future for UCF and his release isn’t a problem. He has decent athleticism and throws a great deep ball. I’d say he needs to work on accuracy some, but that will come with experience. By the time he’s a junior, I think Flores will be a legitimate starter for the Knights as long as he continues to grow and digests the playbook.
Marquee Williams, WR- The grey shirt freshman has great phone booth moves, as he’s as nimble and agile a receiver the Knights have. Williams hasn’t necessarily separated himself like some expected, but he’s still shown that he can be game breaker for the Knights. His production in the final days of camp might determine where he stands on the depth chart.
Dontravious Floyd, WR- I knew Floyd was a big receiver (6’2”, 216 lbs.) coming in, but I really didn’t understand how powerful he was until I saw him in person. He doesn’t tower over you, but he has big thighs and the frame to really be an excellent jump-ball type of player. I don’t see him getting on the field too much this year, but I like his potential.
Quincy McDuffie, WR- This is perhaps the biggest surprise of camp in my eyes. I knew about his track production in high school and heard he was the team’s fastest guy from those who saw him live, but he truly is a special player. His ability cut, accelerate and overall top speed might be second to none on the team. Although he’s undersized (listed at 5’10”) and raw as a receiver, I’d assume the team will have to find a way to utilize him early on in his career.
Kemal Ishmael, CB- Ishmael came in with Flores from high school and many thought that he was more than a throw in; and he is. Ishmael has a lot of poise for a younger guy and is making a run to see the field this year. He is a very fluid athlete and seems to be a natural corner.
A.J. Bouye, CB- Might be the steal of the class. Bouye came in from Tucker H.S. with a state championship and six interceptions to his resume. At a legit 6’0”, 190 lbs., Bouye also had the size to go with his production but because he skipped a year in school, a lot of teams didn’t get a good look at him, but the Knights did. He moves very well for a big man, is confident for a freshman and very well could remain in the two-deep depth chart if he progresses this year.
Josh Robinson, CB- Was one of the most highly-touted players the Knights landed and has been up and down since the spring. Robinson makes a lot of plays but gets caught out of position too. The staff loves his overall athleticism and he’s definitely matured physically since he’s been on campus. He has all the makings of a star player but he must become more consistent (and obviously that’s not an easy request for a true freshman.) His ability to return kicks and punts should enable him to see the field this season.
Jarrett Swaby, S- In a similar situation as Robinson, Swaby came in this spring and earned a spot on the two-deep. He will likely remain there and should be a decent overall player for the Knights.
Jonathan Davis, RB- I thought this was the highlight of UCF’s recruiting class. Davis will play running back as a true freshman and I have to believe he will get a nice amount of touches. Although he might be more natural at linebacker, Davis can make an impact at running back, especially as a short-yardage runner. He isn’t fundamentally sound yet, but his balance and strength will carry him a long way as he masters the position.
Jamie Boyle, K- Will challenge Nick Cattoi as a PK and kickoff return starter. He has a big leg but it’s tough to ask a freshman to handle the pressure of kicking. I am interested to see what happens here.
Corey Ammons, CB- He has decent height but might not be strong enough yet to contribute this year. I like his footwork and just his athleticism in general, but I think he might be redshirted this year.
Henry Wright, S- Wright has the size (6’1”, 215 lbs.) to move down to linebacker and that might be the case. He has a big frame and should add more muscle down the road. For now, I don’t think he’ll find the field, unless it’s on special teams, but it’s my opinion that he could really benefit from an extra year of offseason workouts.
Brandon Bryant, DL- Initially a last minute get on signing day, Bryant looks to be a little more than bargain bin type of guy. He’s bigger than I initially thought (6’4”, 269 lbs.) and moves well for a person of his stature. Bryant probably will be redshirted because you rarely see big guys contribute as freshmen, but he might be a guy to keep your eye on.
Javen Harris, LB- A big dude who should be a middle backer in a couple of years. With decent depth at the position, Harris may not be ready to push for playing time yet. He has the size to really be a force in the box, but he’s in the same ship as Wright. If he works hard in the offseason like I think he will over the next few years, he will be a starter, but right now I just don’t think he’s ready.
Troy Davis, LB/DE-When I first saw Davis in person, I just noticed his arms and hands. He was visiting during the USF game I believe and he did not look like an 18-year-old kid. He has massive hands and size in general and it has translated over in pads. He’s got good burst and will be a fringe backer/end for the Knights this year, as he can probably work his way on the field as a pass-rush specialist this year.
Rey Cunha, OL- A big, bull-dog type of player. There might be too much depth ahead of him amongst guards for him to play this year. The team will work on refining his technique.
Abre Leggins, OL- The JUCO transfer has flew up the depth chart and will likely start at left guard for the Knights. He has the size, strength and quickness you look for in a guard, and I’m ecstatic about his ability to contribute this year. This was a great pickup for UCF.
James Poe, RB- The grey shirt back is definitely big. I introduced myself to him this spring and told him that he ran me over in high school (true story). The staff was disappointed with him over the spring and while he looks a little more comfortable this summer, he hasn’t picked up his game enough yet to unseat Ronnie Weaver or Davis on the depth chart. The team is looking for a short-yardage runner and it’s his job for the taking, but I don’t know if he’s earned the staff’s confidence yet.
Jim Teknipp, TE- I’m not entirely sure what the deal is here. Teknipp is a good kid and will be a pass-catching tight end, but he was in a cast for most of spring and I haven’t seen him much this summer.
D.J. Brown, TE- He passes the eye test. Brown really didn’t get a lot of action as a pass catcher in high school but he has the size to make a difference at the next level. I don’t see him making a contribution just yet but he could really grow in the next few years. I love his potential.
Victor Gray, DE- Similar to Brown, he’s got a good frame but may be a little rough around the edges. Gray needs to add some extra muscle this offseason but he has the attitude to progress down the road.
Frankie Davis, DT- A big guy who also will struggle to see the field as a freshman just because of the physical toll being a young lineman takes. I think he can earn a spot in the rotation if he works hard in 2010, as the team will need him then.
Chris Martin, DT- He can see a lot of action this year. After being grey shirted and then playing in the spring, Martin should be ready to adjust to the collegiate level. The staff expects a lot out of him and I think he can be a good player for UCF, but I think he needs to play with a little more intensity.