John Denton's Knights Insider Spring Preview: Wide Receivers

March 10, 2010

By John Denton

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ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Spend 10 minutes talking with David Kelly and it's easy to see why UCF's assistant head coach has quickly become one of the nation's most dynamic recruiters and rising coaches.

Equal parts motivator, father figure, strategist and leader of young men, Kelly oozes confidence and charisma. And for the most part, elite college players want to buy what he's selling because he's sincere, thoughtful and motivating. Players want to play for him, if not run through a brick wall for him.

When the subject turns to coaching football, Kelly talks boldly of molding winners and promoting all-out competitiveness among his players. Already, he's spoken to UCF's football team about the challenge ahead this spring to embrace competition and grow both individually and as a team.

Kelly helped land UCF's most decorated recruiting class ever last month, personally courting 15 of the 24 players signed by the Knights. And the message has gone out to the current Knights that a talented cavalry of players are on the way, and no starting position is safe.

``On the successful teams that I have been on where you have two entities meeting - guys who have had success and are proven guys and young guys coming up ... that's when you can have an outstanding football team,'' Kelly said. ``To me, that's the largest question looming in regard to the 2010 team - who those two entities mesh.

``I go by the motto, `When all is said and done, there's always been more said than done.' I won't know if they got the message until after the spring because actions speak louder than words,'' Kelly continued. ``If you're not getting it done, someone will take that opportunity. Our (returning) guys have the opportunity and have to run with it.''

UCF's highly anticipated Spring Practice opens on March 19. We here at UCFAthletics.com will be sprinkling in a position-by-position breakdown leading up to the start of spring ball late next week.

Kelly's particular focus, the wide receivers corps, is one of the unquestioned strong suits of a UCF team that went 8-5 last season, won its final five Conference USA games and reached the St. Petersburg Bowl.

The Knights return three of the top pass catches from last season in Kamar Aiken, A.J. Guyton and Jamar Newsome. Quincy McDuffie made a dynamic splash as a freshman and Marquis Williams has already become a player to watch this spring. And Kelly dramatically bolstered the depth of talent at the position with the signings of four-star recruits Joshua Reese and Jordan Akins.

Even Kelly is excited to see how the receiver rotation shakes out because of the levels of proven and promising talent at the position.

``With what we have returning and what we have coming in, it's going to be extremely competitive every day,'' said Kelly, smiling at the prospect of competition pushing players. ``You are going to have to be on your toes in every meeting, every time you step into the classroom and every time you practice. Doing the little things might separate guys because we are going to have lots of talent.

``A big challenge is seeing how the guys who have had success handle it now,'' he continued. ``Will they use that as a platform to leap higher or are they going to relax, become content and fall backwards? So it's a huge spring in that regard.''

The leader of the receivers is Aiken, a senior-to-be who bounced back from an injury-plagued sophomore season. The Miami product caught nine touchdowns this past season, including stellar TD catches of 34 and seven yards in the St. Pete Bowl.

Aiken is hoping another strong season could help him follow in the NFL footsteps of former UCF star wide outs Brandon Marshall and Mike Walker. Kelly just wants Aiken's focus on being a leader and being a consistent force.

``Throughout his career here, he's been one who would make the unbelievable catches and then be unsuccessful on the ones he should catch,'' Kelly said. ``It has nothing to do with his physical ability; it was a mental thing and about having supreme confidence. Based on what I saw from him in the second half of the season and in the bowl game, he looked like he was ready to be that big-time, go-to guy. It's his chance to make this his team and step up. True success comes from the word that's overlooked more than any: consistency.''

McDuffie, who caught a key TD pass against Houston and proved himself to be UCF's best returner, will get more touches this spring. Williams, who coaches have raved about, will get every chance to break into the rotation. And Kelly said his incoming freshmen will be given plenty of opportunities. After all, the more competition the better.

``True winners thrive in that competitive culture. If you aren't a true winner, then you will feel pressured being in this scenario,'' Kelly said. ``We want to find out in spring who thrives in the competitive culture.''


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