ORLANDO (UCFKnights.com) – After competing outside at the UCF practice facility the first two days of camp, the Knights spent day three in Nicholson Fieldhouse. Friday’s session went for just over two hours inside the air-conditioned indoor facility.
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On Thursday the first Amway Coaches Poll of the 2018 season was released. The Knights, who finished 2017 undefeated and seventh in the poll, came in at 23rd. It marked the first time UCF has ever been ranked in the Top 25 before the start of the season.
The highlight of the day for many of the Knights was likely after the final huddle. Head Coach Josh Heupel’s daughter Hannah handed out cookies to the players on their way out of Nicholson Fieldhouse and into the cold tubs. Check out this awesome moment below.
Defensive Coordinator Randy Shannon
On the progress of the defense from spring to camp…
“Today was probably the first time we came out and we really played as a team, we got physical, both sides of the football, situational things were great, the communications on both sides of the football was phenomenal. When you see that much improvement on day three, then you see an outlook that’s been made positive.”
On the defensive players…
“[Kyle Gibson and Richie Grant] are really playing phenomenal, they’re doing a great job, Antwan Collier is another guy that’s doing a great job, so those three guys are the veteran guys, they’re doing all the checks, all the communications, we’re really making a lot of plays with those three guys. The young guys, Jermaine (McMillian) and Derek Gainous, they’re learning and doing a good job. The more those three guys continue to develop, and as those two young guys develop, we’re going to be pretty good in the secondary.”
On the more vocal leaders…
“We have a saying that ‘If we’re all on the same page, we’re all doing pretty good.’ Our expectations of each other are high, Pat’s expectations of himself are high, and the team’s expectations of him are high. Titus is another one that’s been here for a long time, and the players on the team expect him to play at a high level. Vice versa, you take a guy like Randy Charlton who’s a freshman, and expectations of him are to play at another level. So our leaders are our team, the guys we ask to play at a high level, and they demand it from each other.”
On what it’s like to have Joey Connors as a player…
“He’s very knowledgeable. He understands the game, and not just D-line play but also what the linebackers and secondary team does, he’s a guy that has a lot of confidence in himself and he’s a guy that’s really turned it on the last three days. His mentality and the way that he handles and approaches things is unbelievable, he’s a lot different than he was in the spring, and I’m very excited by the way he’s progressing.”
On what it’s like going against the offensive team that’s extremely fast…
“It makes it easy for us, because once you see it in practice and once it’s gametime it becomes a lot easier. It’s great to have that momentum, because you can never practice that getting ready for a team, so we face it every day and it’s good for us. The defensive team accepts it and sometimes they hit us and sometimes they don’t, but it’s exciting to have that kind of urgency when every play.”
Junior Running Back Adrian Killins Jr.
On how camp has been going…
“Everything’s going good. The offense is flying around. Everyone’s excited to be back. It was the first day of pads. I would have to say the defense had more energy than the offense today. Offense and defense, we’ll have our days, but each side of the ball just needs to bring the energy every day. The defense was flying around and they’re going to be good this season.”
On who’s been stepping up…
“Dyllon Lester, he’s doing really well at DB. He’s catching a lot of eyes from a lot of people. Richie Grant’s stepping up in his role. Boman Swanson at right tackle, he’s stepping up and doing a lot of great things. Gabe Davis and Tre Nixon, and a guy that’s stepping up and pleasing me is Tristan Payton. He’s going to have a very good season. He’s very focused right now. He’s very hungry. He’s going to have a great season.”
Senior Linebacker Pat Jasinski
On how camp has been going…
“It’s looking as good as it’s been since I’ve been here. The thing with fall camp is you can’t judge one day too much. You just have to build upon it. The first day we came out really strong compared to how the first day of spring was for us as a defense. It’s day three now and I think we’ve gotten better each day. It’s really competitive on both sides of the ball.”
On how his role has changed…
“As a middle backer you kind of have to be the leader of the defense. You have to communicate a lot, both on and off the field. It’s one thing I’ve had to build, because Shaquem (Griffin) had a big role and a lot of influence on the defense. A lot of guys looked up to him and listened to him. I have to have that influence, really push guys, and keep them accountable.”
On his Fu Manchu…
“It’s just a camp stache.”
PURCHASE 2018 TICKETS
Season tickets are going fast for the highly anticipated 2018 campaign. Fans can purchase theirs today and learn about all their options by calling (407) 823-1000 or visiting us online at https://ucfknights.co/18fbtix.