Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

UCF Knights enter uncertain 2012 season after NCAA sanctions

ORLANDO — This was supposed to be a season of transition for UCF.

With 19 starters and 21 seniors back on a squad that finished a disappointing 5-7 in 2011, the Knights were hoping to mark their final season in Conference USA in 2012 with a championship before jumping to the Big East in 2013.

But after being hit with a yearlong postseason ban as part of penalties handed down by the NCAA for recruiting violations, it's still uncertain whether that coronation will be possible as they await the outcome of an appeal.

Still, coach George O'Leary isn't letting the unknown distract him from preparing a team that could be the best he's seen entering his ninth season in Orlando.

"It's an unusual situation to have the administration involved, and it's probably unique with the NCAA," O'Leary said. "Hopefully the appeal goes through and we win that because I don't think kids should be punished for what happened. They really had nothing to do with it.

"And I'm always going to fight for our football team and our players who deserve a reward if they have a good season."

O'Leary said this year's senior class reminds him of the 2010 group that won both a Conference USA championship and the Liberty Bowl.

The biggest on the field change for the Knights will be at quarterback, where redshirt sophomore Blake Bortles takes over for junior Jeff Godfrey, who converted to receiver.

O'Leary feels confident in his choice of Bortles, who impressed coaches last season in relief appearances for Godfrey.

"I think he's still a sophomore. But obviously he has the tools that we're looking for to lead the football team," O'Leary said. "And I think he's fortunate to have some really good skill kids around him from running backs to receivers that it's not all on his shoulders. Which is what I think you want in a quarterback."

Bortles said he's been focused on learning his expectations and fine tuning his responsibilities.

"Going through spring as the one was definitely a big help to get in there and get the reps and earn the guys' trust on the field," said Bortles who threw for 958 yards and a team-high six touchdowns in 10 appearances.

The offensive line is probably the most touted group in school history, led by senior center Jordan Rae, a candidate for the Rimington Trophy, and all-conference preseason selection Theo Goins.

The receiving corps is loaded with senior Quincy McDuffie (team-high 43 receptions in 2011) joined by productive youngsters in Rannell Hall and J.J. Worton, who was reinstated after an offseason arrest.

Godfrey said he welcomes whatever role the coaching staff has for him, including some "Wild Knight" formations that may have him at quarterback.

Senior running back Latavius Murray was the MVP of the 2010 bowl victory and also the team MVP last season.

Murray is again expected to be the go-to tailback after leading the group with eight rushing touchdowns in 2011.

The defense last year was stunted by some injuries, including losing defensive back A.J. Bouye to an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the eighth game.

Bouye is back, joining all-conference preseason first-teamer and senior defensive back Kemal Ishmael (team high 81 tackles in 2011). Others to watch include junior defensive lineman Victor Gray, also a preseason C-USA first-team selection.

"Last year I did feel like we left games on the field," Gray said. "But it's something that we're not really putting emphasis on this year," Gray said. "Our team goal is 'Finish.' And that's what we're going to do this year."

.fast facts

Area players

Brynn Harvey, Sr., RB (Largo); Christopher Nahat, So., WR (Sickles/Sacred Heart); Phil Smith, Sr., OL (Jesuit/Georgia Tech); Brendin Straubel, Fr., DB (Jefferson); Michael Wiszowaty, Fr., OL (Countryside)

An MVP season

Latavius Murray's team MVP 2011 stats, and his previous two seasons.

2011 98 549 5.6 8 17 242
2010 111 637 5.7 11 5 47
2008 46 132 2.9 3 1 4
TOTAL 255 1,318 5.2 22 23 293


Latavius Murray stats




































UCF Knights enter uncertain 2012 season after NCAA sanctions 08/24/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 24, 2012 8:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over 'inappropriate conduct' (w/ video)


    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater


    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip


    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games


    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.