Finding an impact freshman can be difficult; despite the hype of recruits there can be difficult circumstances that lead to a freshman needing another year before making an impact. That’s the case for any given college football program.
Looking at UCF, a couple of freshmen come to mind. One on offense and one on defense, at the very least. Here are two first year players that the Knights could use as the season progresses.
Vitals: 6’1”, 175-pounds
Position: Wide Receiver
High School: Ewa Beach (Hawaii) James Campbell
Mokiao-Atimalala could have helped the Knights on defense as well, but he will start his UCF career on the offensive side of the football. Very powerful for his size, Mokiao-Atimalala could be a slot wide receiver or possibly play any of the three traditional wide receiver positions, honestly. As an outside receiver, Mokiao-Atimalala possesses the quickness to release off the line of scrimmage and the strength to battle cornerbacks.
Once in his route, the Hawaiian will be yet another difficult matchup for opposing defenses, as the Knights are very deep and talented at wide receiver. Perhaps Mokiao-Atimalala will need a little bit of time to acclimate into the offense, but he’s too talented to be expected to redshirt this fall.
Will the Knights need Mokiao-Atimalala to be a major part of the receiver rotation this fall? Maybe, maybe not. Really talented players find their way onto the gridiron, however, and Mokiao-Atimalala should be expected to see playing time at some point this fall.
Vitals: 6’3”, 305-pounds
Position: Defensive Tackle
High School: Miami (Fla.) / Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy
Hundley is a unique interior defensive tackle prospect because he’s not a traditional run stuffer. He possesses the physical skills to defeat one-on-one blocks and rush the signal caller, or simply shoot a gap and redirect a running play and allow a teammate to make a tackle. Finding defensive tackles with this combination of skills is desirable for practically any recruiting class regardless of the program.
With the Knights being deep along the defensive line, one could argue that it will be hard for Hundley to break into the rotation. The other side of the argument looks at two important factors that could allow Hundley to make an impact for the Knights.
First, football is about depth. Especially on defense, for a team to be good with opposing teams running uptempo offenses there must be consistent substitutions. Having just four defensive tackles rotate would not be enough. That’s scary as some college programs do not possess enough defensive tackle depth.
The UCF Football program can trot out Kalia Davis and Cam Goode, followed by other good defensive tackles like Ricky Barber and Anthony Montalvo. There are other possibilities as well, depending on the particular defensive alignment for any one given play. Still, the more talented defensive tackles the Knights bring into the lineup, the more likely a player like Davis or Goode will be fresh in the fourth quarter to rush the passer and still be capable of taking on blockers in the running game.
That’s where Hundley and/or another player could find playing time. To that end, and this is a recurring theme, this is Orlando. Heat. Humidity. It’s not going away and the Knights must be prepared with more bodies to play in grueling conditions.
Hundley is a likely candidate to play because defensive tackles burn a lot of calories chasing opposing running backs and quarterbacks all game long. While it may not be right away, Hundley is a good bet to see playing time for the Knights this fall.
There might be other freshmen that impact the Knights 2021 season. It’s hard to tell at such an early juncture of fall camp. That’s one of the reasons why college football continues to be intriguing. So many storylines to follow even with a freshman class.