UCF Football Kicks Off with First Practice Session

Aug. 6, 2009

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A new season of UCF football is finally underway as the Knights held their first practice Thursday inside Nicholson Fieldhouse. The 2009 edition of the Black and Gold worked out without pads and went through an extended period of individual sessions followed by 7-on-7 skeleton drills.

"I thought it was pretty decent - first day installation and stuff," said head coach George O'Leary. "I think there is a lot of retention, and the kids are coming on the field with good effort and enthusiasm."

A large media contingent was on hand with WESH-2 and WKMG-6 set to broadcast recaps of UCF's first practice later Thursday evening. Meanwhile, there were about 50 fans in attendance during the afternoon session.

Former UCF quarterback Darin Slack watched practice as well. Slack, who played for the Knights from 1984-87, ranks fourth in program history with 6,302 passing yards and 47 scoring tosses.

There was one position switch to announce as junior Wes Tunuufi Sauvao entered this year as a member of the offensive line but will move back to the defensive side of the ball.

Before practice started, UCF also released new game times for three home dates. The Knights' battles with Samford Sept. 5 and Buffalo Sept. 19 will kickoff at 7:30 p.m., while their homecoming clash against Houston is set for noon on Nov. 14.

UCF's next practice will be Friday morning with its annual Media Day to take place later that afternoon. The Knights will first don full pads on Monday.

On the defensive side of the ball, it will be difficult to replace the senior quartet of defensive backs in Jason Venson, Sha'reff Rashad, Joe Burnett and Johnell Neal. However, there is still plenty of experience coming back in junior Reggie Weams, junior Darin Baldwin, senior Emery Allen and junior Justin Boddie, as well as junior Derrick Hallman who played as an outside linebacker last year.

The front four and linebacking corps appear strong for the Black and Gold, including: junior DE David Williams (20 tackles), junior DE Bruce Miller (52 tackles, seven sacks), senior DT Torrell Troup (52 tackles, two sacks), senior DE Jarvis Geathers (35 tackles, 5.5 sacks), senior LB Chance Henderson (57 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and junior Lawrence Young (72 tackles, 1.5 sacks).

There will not be a lot missing on offense this season. The Knights return 90.3 percent of its rushing yards, 100.0 percent of its passing yards and 99.0 percent of its receiving yards.

Running backs Brynn Harvey (519 yards on 125 carries) and Ronnie Weaver (348 yards on 102 carries) are now both sophomores, while Brian Watters (42 catches for 594 yards), Kamar Aiken (20 catches for 244 yards) and Khymest Williams (17 catches for 114 yards) form a trio of junior wide receivers that will be key to UCF's success in the air. Joining them will be the return of senior Rocky Ross, who suffered a season-ending injury at UTEP last year.

The Knights used three quarterbacks in 2008, with sophomore Rob Calabrese getting most of the action as a true freshman. The Islip Terrace, N.Y., native finished with 664 yards and seven touchdowns in the air. Senior Michael Greco is moving to safety for 2009 but completed his last campaign by going 52-for-107 and 571 yards, and sophomore Joe Weatherford posted 15-for-36 totals for 160 yards.

While these are all returning veterans, the next few weeks will certainly help the coaching staff evaluate its newcomers to see who could break through into the two-deep for game one vs. Samford Sept. 5.

For information on seeing the Knights in action seven times this fall in Orlando at Bright House Networks Stadium, please check out the ticket information page at UCFAthletics.com or call 407-823-1000.

And for the latest news on the Knights, log on to 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 UCFPhotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.