A Storm Brews During UCF's Scrimmage Saturday

GO KNIGHTS UCF moved to Bright House Networks Stadium for Saturday's practice session.
UCF moved to Bright House Networks Stadium for Saturday's practice session.

April 7, 2012

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By John Denton, Knights Insider

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Anyone who's lived in Central Florida knows how unpredictable and dangerous the area's storms can be, striking here and then there and usually leaving a trail of destruction behind.

UCF is hoping that electric tailback Storm Johnson can wreak similar havoc on opposing defenses next season.

Johnson, a transfer from the University of Miami, was one of the standouts at UCF's scrimmage inside of Bright House Networks Stadium on Saturday, making several dazzling cuts and running for an 8-yard touchdown. He had the move of the day when he ran around left end and left reserve cornerback Michael Easton grasping at air following a hip shake and run.

``No. 8, Johnson, showed up today and I've been really pleased with him,'' UCF head coach George O'Leary said of Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 216-pound back. ``He has a chance to take it all the way every time. A couple of times there was too much dancing, but for the most part he got North and South today and I was really pleased with that.''

The combination of returning standout back Latavius Murray and Johnson in the backfield excites UCF coaches and there's even been talk this spring of playing the two of them together to get more playmakers on the field. Murray, a 6-foot-3 senior, gashed UTEP for 233 yards and three total TDs in the season finale last season. Adding Johnson to the mix only makes the Knights more diverse and explosive offensively.

Four weeks into spring practice, the Knights head into their final two practices next week before the 2012 UCF Spring Football Game Presented by PNC Bank next Saturday at 2 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium. O'Leary said the Knights will use the last week of drills to focus on some of the more detailed aspects of games.

``Right now it's a lot about the mental process with these players, but I thought the effort and enthusiasm was really good,'' O'Leary said. ``We'll work on segments with two-minute (drill), fastball, some no-huddle stuff and really get heavy into red zone work.''

Johnson and freshman wide receiver Breshad Perriman have been the two biggest surprises of the spring so far for UCF. Perriman, the son of former NFL receiver Brett Perriman, has impressed coaches with his ability to go up into a crowd, use his 6-foot-3 frame and come down with catches.

Perriman, who had a tough 7-yard catch down near the goal line on Saturday, is already splitting first-string snaps with last season's freshman surprise, Rannell ``Speedy'' Hall. As it turns out Perriman and Hall have been friends for years and Hall is serving as a mentor after Perriman ``grayshirted'' last year and delayed his enrollment into UCF.

``I grew up with Breshad as kids (in South Florida), so I'm not too surprised with him because I knew what he could do,'' said Hall, who was the only true freshman in the conference to make All-C-USA First Team last year (as a kick returner). ``I am surprised at how quickly he learned the plays and the offense, but I knew about his ability. ... He won't say it, but he is kind of leaning on me a little bit. I'm more of a veteran than him, so I expect that and I'm happy to take that leadership role.''

As for Johnson, he said recently that he welcomes the competition in the backfield between Brynn Harvey, Murray and himself. After transferring from Miami, he had to sit out last season because of NCAA transfer rules, but it allowed him to head into this spring having a full comprehension of the UCF offense.

As for that first name of Storm, there's a story that goes along with it. It wasn't the easiest name to have growing up, but the hope now is that Storm will make a big name for himself at UCF.

``My mom just named me that because she wanted me to be an exciting person so she gave me something that was off the wall,'' Johnson said with a laugh. ``I'm the only one (in the family) with a name like that. I used to hate my name when I was young, but now that I'm playing football the name is starting to work out for me.''

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.



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