Oct. 8, 2011
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By John Denton
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF tailback Brynn Harvey's comeback from a devastating knee injury in the spring of 2010 came full circle Saturday night when he earned his first start in 22 months.
Harvey ran for 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2009, but saw his career put on hold when he tore a ligament in his left knee early in spring drills in 2010. Harvey attempted a comeback by midseason last year, but the decision was made to redshirt him after the emergence of Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver last season.
Harvey split carries with Weaver and Murray in UCF's first four games, but was promoted to the starting slot on Saturday following two weeks of work during the open date.
Harvey went for 50 yards on the first play of the game, tying a career long. Harvey ran for 106 yards in the first quarter and 133 in the first half, giving him six 100-yard rushing days in his UCF career. That's good enough for the fifth most 100-yard rushing games in UCF history. He finished with 180 yards on 30 carries, letting him know he was finally recovered from the knee injury that felled him last spring.
``It felt like it was my sophomore year and like I was just back at it again,'' Harvey said. ``It's a great feeling that the coaches believe in me after coming from an ACL injury. It gives me a lot of motivation knowing that the coaches believe in me to come in and do the job.''
UCF head coach George O'Leary said that Harvey would be the starting tailback next Saturday when UCF faces SMU in Dallas. Latavius Murray finished last season as the starter, while senior Ronnie Weaver had started the first four games of this season. But now the job belongs to Harvey.
``I'm just going to come out each and every week in practice and put in hard work,'' Harvey said. ``If the coaches say I'm the starter I'm just going to take that and run with it and keep working hard in practice.''
PUPIL AGAINST MENTOR: UCF quarterback Jeff Godfrey rewrote most of the record books during his playing days at Miami Central High School, becoming the all-time leading passer in Miami-Dade County history. But before he left high school for UCF, he tutored quarterback Rakeem Cato, who had transferred in from Miami Springs.
Godfrey was Conference USA's Freshman of the Year last season while leading UCF to an 11-3 record and a Liberty Bowl victory. Cato is trying to do the same thing this season after leading Marshall to early-season victories against Southern Miss and Louisville. Godfrey and Cato chatted in the days leading up to Saturday's game and entered with bragging rights on the line.
Godfrey completed 13 of 22 passes for 147 yards. He threw his first touchdown of the season, but also had a tipped pass picked off. Cato hit on just 11 of 29 passes for 87 yards.
``He's a great kid and a quick learner. At Miami Central, he was trailing me and he was such a great kid trying to pick up things from older guys,'' Godfrey said of Cato. ``We have a little bet about the completions and the game. It's just bragging rights - who is the best quarterback from Miami Central?''
THE OTHER FOOTBALL: UCF junior safety Kyle Dankenbring has carved himself out quite a niche this season as the Knights' top nickel back and an ace on special teams. He entered Saturday's game against Marshall ranked sixth on the team in total tackles (12) with one pass breakup.
The Palm City native's role has increased even though football might not even be his best sport. Dankenbring, a 5-foot-10, 199-pounder, was a standout soccer goalkeeper in high school and admittedly he misses playing the sport to this day. But while he keeps a close eye on soccer from afar, he feels his aggressive demeanor is better suited for football.
``Soccer was always my favorite sport, way more than football, but I just liked playing football so much more,'' Dankenbring said. ``My mentality is just geared more toward playing football. Football is just more of a man on man test, and I like that more.
``I still watch all of the UCF soccer games from the stands, I'm one of their biggest fans and I wish I was out there playing,'' Dankenbring said. ``But (soccer players) don't get to run out of the tunnel of Bright House Networks Stadium like we do in football.''
ETC: Saturday's victory was the 100th of O'Leary's college coaching career. He won 52 games at Georgia Tech and he has 48 victories at UCF. ... UCF junior Quincy McDuffie did not play Saturday night because of lingering effects from a high ankle sprain. McDuffie, UCF's fastest player and most explosive returner, suffered the injury following a fourth-quarter reception against BYU two weeks ago. The hope is that McDuffie can return for next Saturday's showdown at SMU. ... For the first time in almost two years, UCF wore the uniform combination of black jerseys and white pants to go with their traditional white helmets. UCF last wore the black jerseys and white pants on Nov. 14, 2009, in a 37-32 defeat of Houston, and then a week later in a win over Tulane. The Knights went 6-2 last season while wearing black jerseys and gold pants. ... UCF recorded a safety in the second quarter when Marshall guard Garrett Scott held UCF defensive tackle Victor Gray in the end zone. UCF last recorded a safety on Oct. 26, 2008, against Tulsa.
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at email@example.com.