Beautiful Day Welcomes Spring Football Opening Day

March 18, 2011

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By Leigh Torbin and Josh Molino

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Under typically warm and sunny skies the UCF football team kicked off spring practice on Friday morning in Orlando. The first two practices will be conducted without pads per NCAA regulations so the Knights were somewhat limited during the two-hour session but the UCF fans were able to get their first glimpse of the Knights on the field in the 2011 calendar year.

Making their on-field UCF debuts today were five January enrollees who were a part of what Rivals.com ranked as the No. 39 recruiting class in the nation and the best of any school from a non-automatically qualifying BCS conference. One of the stars of that class is Toby Jackson who helped lead Navarro to the junior college national championship in December for Navarro. Jackson will be looked at immediately at defensive end, a position where UCF loses both of its 2010 starters in two-time Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Miller and honorable mention All-C-USA pick David Williams.

Staying true to their school, both Miller and Williams attended Friday's practice session along with their former teammate Cory Hogue.

After making his on-field debut, Jackson made his UCF media debut after practice and this is what he had to say.

On his transition to UCF:
"Everything has been great. It's a process trying to learn the style of play and the defense. I'm excited to settle in and become part of the team."

On the first day of practice:
"It was a good first day. It's tough going from the gym working out, conditioning and lifting weights and then putting everything together on the field. It's all about settling down and playing ball."

On being listed as the starter coming into spring:
"The biggest thing for me will be to learn the defense and establish some chemistry with my teammates on the field."

On the chemistry with team:
"I'm getting along with everyone. The team chemistry is great. All the guys are helpful and fun to be around. We talk on the field and communicate, if I don't know what to do I can ask the seniors and they are all willing to help."

On his decision to come to UCF:
"I love UCF. I feel like I'm in heaven. I was at junior college for two years. Now being in Orlando and in Florida I know I made the right decision. I love the coaches, players, style of play and was a great opportunity to come in and show what I can do and help UCF win another championship."

On which players reached out to him and helped him transition:
"Troy Davis and Victor Gray have both helped me with the playbook and transition. Davis has helped me get better each day with the playbook."

How different is this scheme then what you are used to?
"Everything happens much faster. Technique, footwork, blocking schemes, with a coach behind you helping you is something I'm not used to. You not only need to know what you are responsible for but what each player on the field is doing."

Spring practice will continue every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday leading up to the annual Spring Game on April 16 at 2 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium. All weekday practices will run from roughly 9-11 a.m. Practice on Saturday March 19, April 2 and April 9 are from roughly 10 a.m. until noon with the session on Saturday March 26 beginning at 1 p.m.

2011 UCF Football season ticket packages can be purchased or renewed online at UCFAthletics.com or by calling the UCF Athletics Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000. Home games include Charleston Southern [Champions UKNIGHT (Sept. 3)], Boston College [Hall of Fame Weekend (Sept. 10)], Marshall (Oct. 8), Memphis [Alumni UKNIGHT - Homecoming 2011 (Oct. 29)], Tulsa (Nov. 5) and UTEP [Senior Day (Nov. 26)]. Should UCF host the C-USA Championship Game for the fourth time in seven years, it would be played on Saturday, Dec. 3 and season ticket holders will receive the first shot at the best seats.

? 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl champions
? Top 20 ranking and a program-best 11 wins in 2010
? Two-time Conference USA champions (2007 & 2010)
? Three-time Conference USA East Division champions (2005, 2007 & 2010)
? Four bowl appearances since 2005
? Led by three-time C-USA Coach of the Year George O'Leary
? Over a dozen UCF Knights appeared on NFL rosters in 2010