John Denton's Knights Insider: Spring Football Preview QB/RB

March 14, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Throughout this week, UCF Knights Insider John Denton will be breaking down each position for UCF's nationally ranked football team heading into the start of spring practice on Friday.

After beginning drills this Friday and Saturday, the Knights will practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the next four weeks leading up to the April 16 Black and Gold Spring Game at Bright House Networks Stadium. The practices are open to the public and there is no admission.

UCF is coming off its finest season in school history, winning both the Conference USA championship and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Knights were 11-3 and finished the season ranked No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 21 in the Associated Press poll.

Here is a look at the quarterback and running back positions heading into spring drills:



2 Jeffrey Godfrey (5-11, 182, Soph.); 5 Blake Bortles (6-4, 230, R.Fresh.).

KEY LOSSES: Rob Calabrese (moved to wide receiver); L.D. Crow.

STATS: Godfrey was the nation's highest-rated freshman quarterback last season. He completed 66.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,159 yards and 13 TDs. He also ran for 566 yards and another 10 TDs.

ANALYSIS: The Knights are in good hands with Godfrey running the team. The freshman proved himself to be a gusty winner last season, directing UCF to its most successful season ever. What Godfrey might lack in sheer size, he makes up for it with elusiveness, smarts and guile.

A dual threat with his strong arm and cat-quick feet, the Knights will try to get Godfrey to work more on staying in the pocket and going through his reads this spring. He got better at that last season as the year progressed, and now is the time for Godfrey to take on more ownership of the offense with his ability to read defenses.

The UCF coaching staff was delighted with the work and arm strength that Bortles showed last season while redshirting. Now, the strong-armed pocket passer from Oviedo will get his chance to lock down the backup job behind Godfrey before four-star recruit DaMarcus Smith arrives on campus.



28 Latavius Murray (6-3, 221, R.Jr); 34 Brynn Harvey (6-1, 206, R.Jr.); 35 Ronnie Weaver (6-0, 209, R.Sr.); 24 Brendan Kelly (6-3, 234, R.Jr.); 32 Billy Giovanetti (5-11, 230, R.Jr.); 13 Dontravius Floyd (6-2, 231, R.So.); 11 Jeff Brinson (5-11, 213, R.Jr.).

KEY LOSSES: Jonathan Davis (moved to linebacker), Ricky Kay.

STATS: Weaver ran for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns on 186 carries, while Murray rushed for 637 yards and 11 more scores on 111 carries. Kelly added 140 yards and a score.

ANALYSIS: The Knights are absolutely loaded at this position - so much so that some of the backs lower on the depth chart could be looking at a position switch by the end of spring drills.

Murray worked his way up from third string on the depth chart and blossomed into the standout back that many thought he could become for the Knights. A back with prototypical size and speed, Murray blossomed into the MVP of both the C-USA title game and the Liberty Bowl at the end of the season. He scored arguably the most important touchdown in school history when he raced in from 10 years out in the fourth quarter against Georgia to put the Knights ahead 10-6. He enters spring drills first on the depth chart and out to prove that he can be the workhorse back with big play abilities that the Knights have sought.

Seeing Harvey back full go will be one of the most watched sights of the spring. A year ago in spring drills, Harvey tore the ACL in his knee. Despite working hard to get back on the field - he practiced late last season and throughout bowl preparation - Harvey was redshirted. His return gives the Knights two All-Conference quality backs and could necessitate UCF running more two-back sets this season with him and Murray.

Weaver is the consummate team player, able to fill in at tailback, H-back or special teams and thrive. The former walk-on is easily one of the Knights most respected players because of his work ethic and toughness. He rescued the Knights last season with his tough running between the tackles while continuing to be an ace on special teams. With the likes of Bruce Miller, Derrick Hallman, David Williams and Jah Reid gone, Weaver's senior leadership will be invaluable to the team for the upcoming season.

Brendan Kelly is a tough inside runner and will get a look at H-Back. Jeff Brinson, who opened some eyes last summer before suffering a knee injury, will be given a shot to back up Murray and Harvey.


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