Aug. 4, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF football team opened its 2008 preseason camp Monday afternoon with a two-hour session on the practice fields next to Bright House Networks Stadium. Head coach George O'Leary and his staff stressed fundamentals during the practice, which featured an extended individual session.
The Knights donned their practice jerseys, shorts and helmets Monday. The defending Conference USA champions will wear full pads for the first time during camp on Friday or Saturday.
"I think today was a good first day. From our end, it is all about installation and getting everyone on the same page," said O'Leary. "As we continue on we will pick up the tempo and get going. I saw some good things out there from a lot of the young players, and that is what these first days are all about... seeing if the new guys can come out and contribute."
The session was the first of 19 preseason camp practices for the Knights.
? UCF returns nine starters on defense from last season's 10-4 squad. Senior cornerback Joe Burnett was happy to be on the practice fields with his fellow veterans Monday. "It is great to be back with the team. Just to be back in the helmet with the cleats on and the coaches yelling and screaming is fun. I love it."
? Burnett is one of four senior starters back in the secondary, which makes beginning the new season simple according to senior safety Sha'reff Rashad. "We have a lot of experience. Experience is such a positive point in college football. We have a lot of it."
? The Knights have several young players expected to contribute early on offense, but one veteran who is especially excited about the season is senior wide receiver Rocky Ross. The Jacksonville native paced the team with 50 receptions in 2007. He expects the team's wideouts to contribute more this year. "Each year you want to improve. Especially now [that] we lost Kevin Smith, we feel this year it is on us. As a receiver, I want the ball more. So does Kamar (Aiken), all of the others... Khymest (Williams)... Brian (Watters); we all want the ball."
? Members of the team reported to campus yesterday. According to director of football operations Marty O'Leary, 98 players suited up for the first day of practice.
? A pair of former Knights were on hand for the practice. Renford Parkes, who lettered for the Knights in secondary from 2004-06, watched the beginning of the session. Kyle Israel, who concluded his time as UCF's quarterback in 2007, stopped by later during practice.
? UCF executive vice president and director of athletics Keith Tribble also visited practice to get his first glimpse of the 2008 Knights.
? Several media members were on hand for the practice, including representatives from all five television stations in Orlando. UCF's annual media day is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
? The Knights will return to the practice fields Tuesday at 9:20 a.m.
UCF is slated to open the 2008 campaign on Aug. 30 at Bright House Networks Stadium against South Carolina State. The Knights will play six contests at the on-campus stadium.
Season tickets are currently available. To order season tickets, or to learn more about attending games at Bright House Networks Stadium, call 407-UCF-1000.
For the latest news on the Knights, log on to www.UCFAthletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. The site, which also contains ticket and Golden Knights Club donor information, is also the home of UCF's new online apparel store. Also visit www.UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.