Marc Daniels' From the Press Box: The Wait is Over

Aug. 2, 2010

="" alt="Knight Head" border="0" class="imported"> Read the Knights Insider | ="" alt="Twitter Logo" border="0" class="imported">Follow us on Twitter | ="" alt="Facebook Logo" border="0" class="imported">Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By Marc Daniels

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The temperature sizzles near triple digits. The sprinklers and mother-nature have layered a morning dew across the manicured practice fields. The birds even seem to respect the landscape and find a resting place atop a nearby fence or wire. Silence is a calm before the storm. It's about to start and the ritual never seems to lose excitement.

Soon the doors open up and the chorus of cleats orchestrate sounds that signal the start of a new season. With them, there are veterans who know the process and rookies looking around to just try and duplicate what they see.

There are coaches who have been through many years of what fall practice is about. Some use a whistle to direct right and wrong, others use a voice loud enough to make those visiting birds want to fly north. Other coaches just look and their expression provides a list of instructions without saying word.

As fans trickle in to see who is bigger, stronger and faster, they see old friends and soon make new acquaintances. They guess which veteran will replace a star who has moved on. They wonder which freshman will move up a depth chart. They predict records, road wins and bowl game invites.

Future little stars-in-waiting wear jerseys and play catch with dads pretending to be their favorite players. Their innocence is the beauty of a new season.

There are former players who return to see the new version of the team that will don the uniform to represent the tradition built from one generation to the next. Some look able to still play today and others look a little further removed from the gameday shape they once displayed.

Welcome to a new season of UCF football. We gather to celebrate a new beginning. We come together to launch another journey filled with memories that will be part of our history. There are new logos, new uniforms, new players, new opponents, new expectations and new goals.

It's our last fall with the likes of Bruce Miller, Derrick Hallman, Lawrence Young, Jah Reid and Kamar Aiken. It's our next fall with the likes of Josh Robinson, Kemal Ishmael, A.J. Bouye, Quincy McDuffie and Jonathan Davis. And it's our first fall with the likes of Jeffrey Godfrey, Jordan Ozerities, E.J. Dunston and their fellow freshmen.

It is a great time to be Knight, whether you are a player or fan. There just appears to be a sense that things are getting really good. Most so-called experts believe UCF is a conference title contender. Most coaches throughout Conference USA believe UCF should contend as well and few argue that UCF features the best defense in the conference.

But there's buzz elsewhere. Even south Florida newspapers have had no choice but to take notice of the growing number of high school stars in the talent rich area who are not just looking at UCF, but committing to become Knights.

When the Orlando Sentinel recently ran a feature ranking the top players in UCF history, there was no surprise who was number one. Daunte Culpepper chose UCF and former head coach Mike Kruczek was correct when he said Culpepper's career was worth 10 years of program growth to UCF. It has been 16 years Culpepper chose UCF and look what has changed in what really is a short time. Daunte wouldn't mind playing with this year's team. How many yards do you think he would throw for with all the receivers on the roster?

These days it's cool to be a Knight and that goes for recruits, current players and fans. Buzz is good. Buzz is trendy. Buzz is contagious. Buzz is beautiful.

So get set fans. It's here. A new season of UCF football. The wait is over...football is back.

Knights notes and more: We knew he hit hard, but now we know he has other talents. In a recent interview on my radio show I asked UCF linebacker Derrick Hallman which he would be more likely to win; Dancing With The Stars, America's Got Talent or Survivor? Hallman's answer: "Oh, without a doubt, Dancing With The Stars. I got moves."...C-USA did not have a preseason coaches' poll to rank teams going into the new year, but those in attendance say if they did, Houston would have topped the vote in the west with UCF and Southern Miss the choices for the east...When one of my radio show partners, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, recently wrote a column on whether UCF was a better fit for the SEC than Vanderbuilt, he took a lot of flak from Vanderbilt fans. What is interesting is that Mike pointed out many factors in UCF's favor like bigger television market, bigger enrollment, bigger stadium and more conference titles. And think about this, over the next five years Vanderbilt will make almost $100 million on the SEC's television deal. UCF, in the new C-USA deal, might be in the range of $8-10 million over that same period of time. Anyone wonder what UCF would do with another $90 million for its athletic department?...Final thought: True story from the past week, a guy in front of me was cut-off dangerously on the ramp going from I-4 to the 408. The car that cut him off had multiple "peace" stickers on the back window and bumper. The guy cut-off rolled down his window and screamed "that's not very peaceful buddy." So the other guy rolled his window down and responded with "it's not my car."

Marc Daniels' From the Press Box runs several times per month on UCFAthletics.com. Listen to Marc during UCF football, men's basketball and baseball radio broadcasts on the UCF-ISP Sports Network. Each weekday, Marc hosts "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando from 9-11 a.m.