UCF begins preparation for life after Fiesta Bowl championship


The UCF Knights began spring football practice this week with the big question mark going into the 2014 season of who will take over the reigns at quarterback.

The void on offense after the early departures of quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson will be the main concern and focus when establishing the depth chart this spring.

“This is a new team, new chemistry, new leadership, with a couple of key positions that need to come through for us, but we’ll be a solid football team,” said head coach George O’Leary. “The freshman are the ones you worry about, as far as keeping up with pace, but we have a lot of young good athletes that just need to learn how to finish,” added O’Leary.

It will be a three-way battle under center for the Knights between sophomore Justin Holman, redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo, and true freshman Tyler Harris. O’Leary said all three will rotate reps with the first team offense until someone separates themselves with not only skillset, but the intangibles you look for in a quarterback.

“Fieldmanship is big for the quarterback. You can limit what they do on the field, but you can’t change their personalities…you’re the coach on the field,” said O’Leary.

Several players echoed the sentiments of O’Leary when talking about what needs to be done by the qb’s in order to continue the success the program saw last year.

“You can sit in meetings all you want, but until you get on the field and get reps running with the first team, that’s what will really help those guys, the speed of running with the ones, because it’s a different speed than running with the two’s and three’s,” said center Joey Grant.

“They are all very talented guys and I think it’s going to be a great battle all spring, all of them have the capability of running this offense, and doing it well,” added Grant.

Sophomore running back William Stanback, who came on strong for the Knights in his freshman season will take on a more critical role not only on the field, but off.

“I never thought of being a leader this early, it’s a huge role for me, but I am ready to take it on,” said Stanback.

Senior wideout J.J Worton will look to lead a talented wide receiver corps that can hopefully make the new quarterbacks transition a little smoother.

“Being a veteran, I have to come in and try and help the younger guys,” said Worton. “We have a lot of athletes on our team, and a lot of weapons on our team that our quarterbacks can use.”

O’Leary stressed to his players the importance of turning the page on last season, and working towards continuing that success this year.

“I made it very clear to the guys, I gave out plaques from the conference, and said this ends last season,” said O’Leary.

UCF will have 14 spring practices leading up to the April 12 spring game at 2 p.m