John Denton's Knights Insider: Quincy McDuffie, Small in Stature Big on the Field

Feb. 1, 2010

By John Denton

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With National Signing Day just two days away, it's important to remember that not all the players who make immediate impacts as freshmen come with four and five-star ratings and breathless praise from alleged recruiting experts.

Take, for example, the case of UCF freshman wide receiver/kick returner Quincy McDuffie. He ended up at UCF with little-to-no fanfare after breaking two bones in his back in the first game of his senior season in high school. Coach George O'Leary took a flier on McDuffie on the recommendation of Edgewater High School coach Bill Gierke, one of the most respected and successful coaches in all of Central Florida.

It took the 5-foot-10, 172-pound McDuffie all of one half of football this past season to prove to O'Leary that he belonged at UCF.

McDuffie took the kickoff to open the second half against Samford back 95 yards for a touchdown. It was the first of many big plays for the true freshman with the blazing speed and electric moves. And all season long, O'Leary kept wondering where his Knights would have been had he not landed the lightly regarded McDuffie on National Signing Day a year ago.

``Coach Bill Gierke told me about Quincy and I have a great respect for Bill and his program and we worked it up and Quincy was nothing but a pleasant surprise for us,'' O'Leary said. ``He has the maturity and he obviously has the athleticism that you are looking for. As a freshman he did some nice things and he's only going to get better as he sees the field more.''

UCF could very well have its finest recruiting class ever come Wednesday when the National Letter of Intents coming rolling in. The Knights already have five signees on campus and enrolled in classes, namely highly decorated Miami Central quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey. And if the players verbally committed to UCF end up Knights, the future certainly looks bright for the football program considering the influx of dynamic talent in the past two recruiting classes.

``I think we've improved every year recruiting wise and the depth is starting to show,'' O'Leary said. ``That's where your recruiting comes in. You can't have a bad year in recruiting and you have to keep that consistency. We've been able to do that.''

McDuffie helped UCF rank 13th in the nation this past season in kickoff return average (24.79) with his 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash and his ability to make foes miss. He also had an electric 65-yard return against Rutgers in the St. Pete Bowl. And his biggest play of the season proved to be a dazzling 24-yard touchdown catch between two defenders that helped UCF defeat Houston for its first-ever win against a ranked foe.

That kind of impact had to come as a surprise to most coaches who backed recruiting McDuffie during his senior season of high school. It was even a surprise to McDuffie, a quiet, respectful teenager who quickly became one of O'Leary's favorite players on the team.

``I'd say it was better than what I anticipated,'' McDuffie said after a recent offseason workout. ``I believe I had a good freshman season because in some games I really had an impact and helped us win. That's what it's all about.''

McDuffie carried the ball 11 times this past season for 55 yards and he caught eight passes for another 126 yards. But looking back on the season, O'Leary doesn't think that McDuffie was involved in the offense enough and has vowed that that will change next season.

``Quincy just had something about him,'' O'Leary said. ``He's a very determined, competitive guy. We have to find ways to get the playmakers the ball in their hands and Quincy is one of those guys. We probably should have utilized him a little more this year, but we brought him along the right way. He's a guy you want to have the ball because he has such big-play potential.''

Accordingly, McDuffie has put in extra time in the weight room to try and bulk up his 172-pound frame and he says he's intent on learning all of the receiver positions in the Knights offense.

And he hopes to be even faster next season - something that has to be a scary thought for opposing defensive backs and defenders covering kicks. In high school, he won the state title in the 400 and was once ranked first in the nation after running a 46.01. He also held the Orlando metro record in the 200, running a 20.98.

That blazing speed, combined with a will to improve this offseason, should help McDuffie make an even bigger impact for years to come at UCF. His back injury from high school a distant memory, McDuffie could go down as one of UCF's most dynamic recruits even though he wasn't highly touted coming out of high school.

``With his ability (coaches) were knocking on the doors all over the place, but he had that injury his senior year,'' O'Leary recalled. ``We were fortunate to get Quincy and we're just thankful to his high school coach who kept us abreast of him. Quincy is going to be a good one.''


John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.