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Talking UCF Football, the Transfer Portal was Good to the Knights

Following the trends of the transfer portal led one to seeing the success UCF had this season.

ORLANDO - Where would the Knights be without the transfer portal in 2021? UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn and his staff did a great job of bringing in impact players for the Knights.

The player that led the team in receiving touchdowns came from the portal, same with quarterback sacks, and the player that was leading the team in tackles prior to injury also came from the portal.

There’s also a certain running back that made UCF’s offense different when he was in the lineup. UCF fans know the player in question. A defensive stopper in the middle also came from the transfer portal. It’s a really unique way to supplement a college football roster, and UCF did a masterful job with its capabilities.

Here’s a look at a few of the top transfers for the Knights from the 2021 season, in alphabetical order.

Mark Antony-Richards, Running Back - Auburn

Just a redshirt sophomore, Antony-Richards went from very little playing time early in the season to being a primary ball carrier against rival USF in the War on I-4 by toting the football 14 times for 73 yards.

A bigger back like Bowser, Antony-Richards possesses the ability to pound the football between the tackles and also make defenders miss in the process. Most notably about his progress, he showed increased patience with the football after taking the handoff; during the second half of the season Antony-Richards found cutback running lanes with his ability to wait for the best opportunity to arise.

Antony-Richards will be back in Orlando next season and should be one of the primary running backs for the Knights, if not the primary big running back, combining with Johnny Richardson for a really good top two on the depth chart.

Bryson Armstrong, Linebacker - Kennesaw State

One of the most instinctual linebackers in the country, Armstrong moved up to the FBS level from the FCS level and did a tremendous job. His season was cut short by an ACL injury which cost him the Connecticut and USF games, but he did a really nice job regardless of where he played for the Knights when in the lineup.

Armstrong played the Knight position, which is the hybrid linebacker, for most of the 2021 season. He also played some inside linebacker when needed. Either way, he was around the football over and over and helped the Knights win football games.

For the season, Armstrong produced 77 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack, four quarterback hurries and two passes broken up.

It’s unknown what Armstrong’s plans are, but he’s played four years of college football. Perhaps he uses the NCAA’s COVID-19 year of eligibility and returns to the Knights in 2022?

Ricky Barber, Defensive Tackle - Western Kentucky

It’s amazing what a true interior presence can do to help a run defense. When Barber played, the Knights did far better against the run. He did not play much against Navy and it really hindered the Knights up front.

Having him in the lineup also adds an interior player that opposing teams need to at least consider double teaming. He’s not exactly the player offensive coordinators want smashing their quarterback with Barber being 6’3” 290 pounds.

The Louisville, Ky. native registered 28 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three quarterback hurries and one quarterback pressure on the 2021 regular season.

Barber still has a couple more years to play at UCF. He’s just getting started.

Isaiah Bowser, Running Back - Northwestern

An immediate impact was felt with Bowser racking up 33 carries, 172 yards, and one touchdown in the opening game versus Boise State. When he played, Bowser was UCF’s No. 1 option to receive the football.

He proved to be hard to tackle, used excellent patience in the hole, and worked for extra yardage after contact. Bowser also did a nice job in pass protection, a vital component to playing running back. In short, he’s a true lead running back in today’s college football world.

Playing in seven-plus games due to injury, Bowser’s stat line included 548 yards and seven touchdowns. He also caught nine passes for 75 yards.

As for 2022, it’s not yet known what Bowser will do, but the UCF coaching staff did talk to him about coming back for next season.

Big Kat Bryant, Defensive End - Auburn

Named a team captain after being a graduate transfer, that’s impressive. Bryant earned the respect of his teammates quickly throughout off season workouts, and he’s started every game for the Knights this season.

He was UCF’s primary edge defender, and took more snaps at defensive end than any other player.

As the season went along, Bryant played better and better. He accumulated 50 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, led UCF with six sacks, three passes broken up, and eight quarterback hurries.

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Bryant will be headed off to the NFL Combine barring something unforeseen.

Brandon Johnson, Wide Receiver - Tennessee

After only catching one touchdown pass during his Tennessee career, Johnson became the touchdown man for the Knights. Whether it was a corner route or a stop fade, Johnson was catching the football in the end zone.

For the regular season, Johnson registered 38 receptions, 558 yards, and 11 touchdowns. He caught at least one touchdown pass in 10 of 12 games. That’s the mark of consistency.

Brandon Johnson earned the "C" on his jersey

Brandon Johnson earned the "C" on his jersey

Like Bryant, Johnson was named a team captain. He’s steady on the field, and he’s steady with his teammates and the media. Johnson proved to be a great representative for UCF and did a really good job during the regular season.

Like Bryant, most expect Johnson to head off and test the NFL waters. He was a redshirt senior this season.

For UCF coverage and recruiting information go to: The Daily Knight podcast. For more college football, UCF and recruiting information, go to Twitter: @fbscout_florida and @UCF_FanNation, as well as my YouTube Channel and Instagram page. Like and Subscribe!

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