Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Colleges

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.

SEASON ATT YDS AVG TD REC YDS
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


Heady

Latavius Murray stats

SEASON

ATT

YDS

AVG

TD

REC

YDS

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

Comments
FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

Florida State starting offensive tackle Josh Ball faces a university suspension after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for dating violence.The suspension came to light in a Facebook post Monday afternoon by Sandra Sellers, an FSU studen...
Published: 05/22/18
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Published: 05/21/18
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Published: 05/21/18
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18