There are several new starters, and for that matter, new names for UCF Football amidst its depth chart. Two questions before diving into the names and positions that caught the attention of Inside The Knights.
Is this a definitive depth chart, or more of a guide? Remember, this is a new coaching staff, a roster that witnessed double digit college transfers, and it’s an opening opponent that cannot be taken lightly. Let’s see who plays as compared to who’s been listed on the initial depth chart.
Which transfer player makes the biggest impact? As noted, UCF’s coaching staff awarded several starting and backup roles to transfers. Now, which transfers shine against Boise State?
Transfer Portal Aids Knights
From the offensive side of the football alone, and specifically referencing the 2021 college transfers, they account for five players listed on the initial Knights’ depth chart. That’s a combination of good scouting, recruiting, and coaching all coming together.
Listed at the same wide receiver position, Brandon Johnson, Nate Craig-Myers, and Jordan Johnson all arrived at UCF this year after being at Tennessee, Colorado State/Auburn, and Notre Dame. The running back depth chart will be represented by two transfers from the three listed at the position.
Isaiah Bowser comes to UCF from Northwestern and he’s earned the starting running back job. The other running back transfer that made the depth chart would be Mark Antony-Richards. He came to UCF from Auburn. Defensively, there are players to watch as well.
With the addition of Bryson Armstrong, UCF found its hybrid defender. He will be starting at what the UCF coaching staff will call the “Knight” position. The position is part safety and part linebacker.
Armstrong comes to UCF after playing at Kennesaw State where he made All-America status twice during his FCS career. For more in-depth information about Armstrong, take a look at this article from earlier this summer by Inside The Knights. He’s not the only starter up front for the Knights that came via the transfer portal.
There is the expected starting role for Big Kat Bryant at the “Buck” position, which is more or less a designated pass rusher that can play in a three-point stance or stand up and rush the passer. Bryant came to UCF from Auburn. He’s one of the most imposing players in all of college football.
Inside, Ricky Barber will be a starter after beating out Cam Goode, a player UCF started twice last season. Barber comes to UCF via Western Kentucky. Barber’s size and athleticism has been mentioned prominently throughout camp from insiders, and now he will have a chance to show his talents.
Playing along the interior defensive line as well, just how much will Kalia Davis play nose guard and how much will he move around to defensive end? He’s a really versatile player and one that Boise State will need to account for during each play. If he’s playing well and commands a double team, he will help free up Bryant, Barber, and every other UCF front seven defender.
Size Along the Defensive Line
From the three down lineman listed in the two-deep depth chart, size should be considered a focal point. Five of the six are listed at 290-pounds or larger. From that group, Kalia Davis (6’2”, 310), Keenan Hester (6’4”, 305), and Cam Goode (6’2”, 315) tip the scales at over 300-pounds.
Going up against a Boise State offense that averaged a mediocre 3.3 yards per carry last season, this group of behemoths will likely make it difficult to run the football between the tackles.
Youth and Size at Cornerback
There are several possible notable points about the cornerbacks, but the first question should be, who’s ready to step up from this depth chart? Cornerback is arguably the biggest question mark on the UCF roster heading into the 2021 season. Looks like last year’s starters will hold down their positions for the beginning of this year’s regular season.
**The Knights return two players that started as freshman: Davonte Brown and Corey Thornton. Now sophomores, they will both be starting again. The two young cornerbacks have much to prove headed into 2021, and the Boise State offense will certainly challenge their talents.
**Every cornerback listed on the depth chart is listed at 6’1” or taller. UCF might have the tallest cornerback depth chart in all of college football.
**Although listed as a safety coming out of Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia, Ga., Brandon Adams will play cornerback to start his UCF career. Continuing with the above theme regarding height, Adams possesses a really long frame, coming in at 6’3”. There are very few cornerbacks at Adams' height playing college or professional football.
**UCF did not list a “nickel” cornerback with its depth chart. That’s now an important position in college football with so many spread offenses across the country.
**Six of the eight listed cornerbacks and safeties come from Broward County or Dade County. The greater Fort Lauderdale and Miami areas are known for producing defensive backs, and the Knights are certainly being represented in their own defensive backfield from that area of the state of Florida.
Keene Earns Backup QB Role
Although he’s a true freshman, Mikey Keene is listed as the backup quarterback to Dillon Gabriel. The Arizona talent is also similar in his style of play to Gabriel, as he’s a pocket passer with the ability to make throws on the run when needed.
While it’s unlikely Keene will see much action this season, it’s important to find the next quarterback for the Knights. Perhaps Keene will see some mop up duty at some point during the regular season so that everyone can watch Keene play in live action.