UCF football has been arguably the best Group of Five program over the last three years, dating back to the Scott Frost-led undefeated season in 2017. Like the rest of the AAC, the Knights are set to play football this fall, with things starting up in mid-September.
Josh Heupel’s program is set to kick off the season on Sept. 19, with a game at Georgia Tech out the ACC. That is the only non-conference game on the slate, with AAC play starting the following weekend with a trip to ECU. Entering the year, UCF is ranked No. 21 in the AP Poll. Without the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams ranked ahead of them, the Knights would be No. 14.
UCF is once again the favorite in the conference, with 10 first-place media votes in the recently released preseason poll. Cincinnati (seven votes), and Memphis (two) are the major contenders to up-end the Knights. Memphis did so last year, after back-to-back UCF conference titles.
The Knights will have a pretty major depth challenge, due to players opting out. This morning, the program announced that 10 members of the program won’t be participating this fall, including backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. and Tay Gowan, a returning starter at cornerback.
Here are 10 #UCF players who have opted, per Josh Heupel:
QB Darriel Mack Jr.
CB Tay Gowan
DL Mason Cholewa
DL Kalia Davis
DL Kendrick Wilson
CB Devunte Dawson
DB Elijah Benoit
OL Allan Adams
OL Lamarius Benson
OL Adrian Medley
— Jason Beede (@therealBeede) September 1, 2020
Mack appeared in nine games last fall as backup to Dillon Gabriel, throwing for 219 yards and four touchdowns, and adding 179 yards and three scores on the ground. With Gabriel and former starter Mackenzie Milton battling it out for the QB1 job, it is unlikely that Mack would’ve really factored into the position battle, but you still hate to lose a valuable backup quarterback.
Kalia Davis was a big factor on the Knights defense last season, starting the final nine games of the year and appearing in all 13. He had three sacks and eight tackles for loss last season. Mason Cholewa appeared in 11 games for the Knights last fall, making 11 tackles (four for loss) and 1.5 sacks.
Lamarius Benson is the most experienced player of the three offensive line opt outs, appearing in nine games last year. Medley played in one game, against Florida A&M.
Kendrick Wilson, a freshman for the Knights, and community college transfer Devunte Dawson are both newcomers to the UCF football program in 2020.
The post UCF, Preseason No. 21, Announces 10 Players Are Opting Out appeared first on The Spun.