Aug. 30, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Brian Ormiston
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - It began 30 days ago. Early morning unit meetings, individual film sessions, grueling practices in the Florida heat and endless studying of the playbook. UCF football's preseason camp helped lay the foundation for the 2012 Knights, and all of their tireless hard work will finally be put to the test tonight when the season kicks off at Akron at 7 p.m.
This year's team stepped foot on the same field together for the first time on Aug. 1. Seniors already began taking ownership of their squad and freshmen quickly adjusted to a new way of life as college student-athletes. Five new coaches joined the Knights for spring camp, and the month of August continued to provide the entire staff a perfect opportunity to bring everyone together.
Led by ninth-year head coach George O'Leary, UCF wasted little time demonstrating its talent level during camp. Senior Quincy McDuffie and sophomores J.J. Worton and Jeff Godfrey were primary targets for sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles who consistently found his receivers all over the field. Senior running backs Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey formed smiles on a daily basis at the amount of holes opened up by the offensive line, and sophomore tailback Storm Johnson made everyone speechless due to his speed and ability to read the linebackers in just his first year in the two-deep.
Speaking of the offensive line, the Knights have enough experience to fill a colossal moat. Center Jordan Rae and left guard Theo Goins are in their final seasons in Black and Gold, and they have 47 combined starts on the line. Next to Goins, sophomore left tackle Torrian Wilson made four starts last year, and on the other side are juniors Jordan and Justin McCray who have rarely spent a day apart. That relationship should form a cohesive group on the right side, and add in transfer Phil Smith from Georgia Tech, and Bortles may find himself with plenty of time to locate his teammates downfield.
During camp, if the offense was struggling then a likely cause was UCF's top-10 defense, anchored by one of the best tacklers in UCF history in senior safety Kemal Ishmael. Alongside the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List member is sophomore safety Clayton Geathers who was voted onto the Conference USA All-Freshman Team. Holding down spots at the corners are A.J. Bouye on one side and sophomores Jordan Ozerities, Brandon Alexander and Bruce Dukes in the mix as well. Bouye missed the final five games of his junior campaign with an injury, while Ozerities was out all year as well.
Terrance Plummer will be one to watch early in 2012. The sophomore had one start at middle linebacker as a true freshman, and will be surrounded by a pair of seniors to his left and right. Jonathan Davis converted from running back in 2011 and proceeded to lead the Knights in tackles for loss, and Ray Shipman earned two starts in his first full year on the gridiron after starting college on the hardwood at the University of Florida.
A trio of defensive ends forms a dynamic bunch on UCF's defensive line. Senior Troy Davis paces all returning Knights with 10.5 sacks, classmate Cam Henderson was one of the biggest surprises in camp even though he did not make a start a year ago and junior Victor Gray moved over from defensive tackle and could see time at both spots throughout the season. And up the middle, Jose Jose, Thomas Niles, Andrew Rice, E.J. Dunston, Josh Wofford and Joey Grant had to contend with UCF's rushing attack in camp, enabling the group to only get better every day.
Now on Aug. 30, the Knights are in Ohio. They are finally about to hit somebody different. Bortles is prepared for his first-collegiate start. Rannell Hall and McDuffie are anxious to put UCF's kickoff return in the top five in the nation for a fourth-straight year. The defense desires to lead C-USA in virtually every category just like it did in 2010 and 2011.
They have come a long way in 30 days. But the Knights are ready.
After taking on Akron, UCF will travel to Ohio State Sept. 8 before hosting FIU Sept. 15 and Missouri Sept. 29. UCF football season tickets are currently available for as low as $140, while single-game tickets and flex plans are also on sale. For more information and to place an order, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com. Attending a UCF football game is a great way to celebrate birthdays, corporate outings or any special occasion. Please ask about group packages today.