In 2007, A.J. Guyton caught 23 passes for 253 yards and he was ready to further his role as the team’s designated slot receiver heading into his sophomore campaign. While he wasn’t going to be a starter, the Knights’ staff had big plans for the elusive receiver, but an ACL injury during spring practice put a damper on his 2008 season.
For an entire year, Guyton had to watch his teammates flounder around on offense, as UCF finished dead last in the nation in yards per game. There was no one particular unit that stood out on that side of the ball, but the wide receivers were decimated by injuries and they were particularly atrocious as a collective group.
Things were supposed to get better on offense during the 2009 season and so far there has been improvement, but the team’s top two receivers, Kamar Aiken and Rocky Ross, have both struggled with routinely catching the ball in games. Both were dinged up two weeks ago against Memphis and neither player entered the lineup but Guyton certainly made his presence felt with a four reception, 50-yard performance.
“I thought A.J. Guyton played extremely well last week,” said UCF head coach, George O’Leary. “It wasn’t just the catch, it was the catch and the run after the catch.”
In UCF’s last two games, Guyton has accumulated 169 yards through 13 receptions and looks like he’s completely rebounded from the injury that put the redshirt in his title of redshirt sophomore.
“My knee feels great,” said Guyton. “I don’t even think about it when I’m out on the field, once I’m out there and they break the huddle, I go out there and just play. I don’t think about, I plant off it, I make cuts off it, I can do everything.”
With Aiken and Ross likely to be back this week against Miami, Guyton may not get the starting nod but his ability to be consistent amongst a group of receivers that have not been reliant this season will garner him some playing time.
Guyton knows that his ability to get yards after the catch against Miami will be crucial to upsetting the ninth-ranked Hurricanes. A Homestead (FL) native, Guyton will be chomping at the bit to get a chance to show family, friends and former teammates what he can do against the ‘Canes.
“I’m very excited to go up against the people I’ve grown up with,” said Guyton, whose high school teammate Marcus Robinson starts for Miami. “I just want to show people where I’m from that I can go up and compete against the highest level in the ACC.”
Hailing from South Florida means that a large contention of his relatives are Miami fans, and Guyton acknowledges that there will be mixed feelings from his family.
“When I went home before this bye week I was asking my cousins, my uncles, my guardian, who is a die-hard Miami fan, I asked them who they were going with this Saturday. They all said the same thing, they said they don’t have a team this week. They’d love to see us win, they’d love to see them win.”
Regardless of who wins on Saturday, Guyton admits that he’ll just be happy to be back on the field, playing in a big time atmosphere.