There are not that many skill position athletes with the experience and physical skills that the following UCF defensive back brings to the table. Capable of playing cornerback, safety, or nickel, he’s a unique player that will likely play an integral role in how the Knights shift coverages and rotate defensive backs this fall.
Divaad Wilson - #9
Vitals: 6’0”, 195-pounds
High School: Miami (Fla.) Northwestern
Former University: University of Georgia
High School Recruitment: Wilson was one of the state of Florida’s top overall recruits coming out of famed Miami Northwestern High School. His official visits included South Carolina (Oct. 28), Alabama (Nov. 18), Georgia (Dec. 8) and Louisville (Dec. 16) before picking the Bulldogs.
While at Georgia: redshirted during the 2018 season, and then played a major role for the Bulldogs during the 2019 campaign. He started the games versus Kentucky and Notre Dame, recording an interception versus the Irish. His value went further than just statistics.
Playing the “Star” position within Georgia’s defensive scheme, i.e. nickel corner, Wilson went up against some of the nation’s most explosive athletes in space. Due to Wilson’s length and agility, he possesses the ability to stick with a variety of offensive skill position players. This could also be a role that Wilson plays for UCF during the 2021 season, and he’s an extension of the UCF cornerback depth chart. For a closer look at UCF’s cornerbacks, go here: The Size of UCF’s Cornerbacks Expands UCF’s Defensive Capabilities.
Wilson started out at cornerback for the Bulldogs and that’s how he was recruited as well. After his transition to safety with the Knights, there’s still that cornerback mentality and training schedule. Watching him do defensive back drills in the Florida sand this off season helps to better understand just how quick Wilson became and how well his skills transformed. This is not a typical so-called safety.
Playing for the Knights During the 2020 Season
He played in five games. His totals included nine solo and two assisted tackles, including one tackle for loss. He was only a part of the rotation for five games, but he’s now much more prepared than he was during the 2020 season. After a quality spring practice season, Wilson is one to watch this fall.
How Wilson Fits into the 2021 UCF Defensive Backfield Depth Chart
This question should honestly be asked each time the Knights gear up for a game. Wilson will likely compete with fellow Miami prep player Jermaine McMillian at safety, but there’s fact that UCF will play a variety of offensive schemes this fall, including a triple-option attack in Navy (Oct. 2) as well as an offense like Louisville that runs a complexity of formations and inserts shifts and motions to confuse a defense.
Because of Wilson’s unique physical skills and overall experience of playing in the SEC and for UCF, he’s capable of playing multiple positions for the Knights regardless of the opponent. Against Navy, for instance, Wilson will probably be more of a linebacker in terms of how he plays versus a run-dominant scheme from the Midshipmen, while possibly lining up at multiple positions. Playing a nickel position could be at least part of his responsibility for that game. There’s also the fact that other UCF players need to be utilized to fit into the defense before clearly stating which position(s) Wilson will play.
Much could depend on the other UCF defensive backs this fall. There needs to be a major improvement from last season, but there are several talented athletes returning and transfers coming to the program. Which cornerbacks and safeties step to the forefront during fall camp? Wilson could fill a position at safety, nickel, and do not completely discount him playing cornerback, although that’s probably the least likely of the three positions he will play. He’s a versatile player.
Experience and Leadership
Experience matters within a college football secondary. The Knights possess a depth chart with several defensive backs that played significant roles for their teams during the past two or three years. Now it’s finding a way to place those pieces together. Wilson’s ability to be a multiple defender provides him a chance to impact the game through man coverage, zone coverage, blitzing and the all-important leadership factor.
Whether he’s the one making the pass deflection or recovering a fumble or not, he’s going to be able to help some of the younger players. Further, he’s seen just about anything an opposing offense can throw at a defensive back. He should be able to help younger players with assignments and just how to work at their craft of being a defensive back.
Here’s a video describing some of what Wilson could be doing as a nickel corner. It’s a complex position but this video helps to provide some insight into the inner workings of the position, as well as two UCF opponents -- Navy and Louisville -- that Wilson could be used at the nickel position because of their particular schemes.
Wilson will be a player that UCF likely relies upon to help fill multiple roles. He’s a safety, but he’s also a player that can help the nickel position and be a leader. Expect this young man to be a key component for the Knights this fall.