John Denton's Knights Insider: Knights to Watch in 2011

June 30, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Anticipation for the 2011 football season at UCF is higher than ever following the finest season in school history in 2010.

The Knights are coming off an 11-3 season in which they won both the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and the Conference USA championship. UCF defeated Georgia 10-6 in Memphis on Dec. 31 for the school's first bowl victory.

UCF also entered the national rankings for the first time last season and finished ranked No. 20 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Also, the Knights were No. 21 in the Associated Press poll and hope to begin next season in both national polls.

With the opening of training camp approaching and the Sept. 3 opener at Bright House Networks Stadium against Charleston Southern approaching, UCFAthletics.com's John Denton will take a look at various players to watch this season leading up to the start of camp on Aug. 4.

PLAYER: Josh Linam

POSITION: Middle Linebacker

HEIGHT, WEIGHT, CLASS: 6-3, 237, Senior

HOMETOWN: Tavares, Fla.

BEST ON-FIELD TRAITS: Solely a special teams ace in the past, Linam matured into a dependable middle linebacker last season who was responsible for calling the signals and making checks at the line. He's also intelligent on and off the field, being honored for his academic prowess and recognized for his football smarts.

2010 STATISTICS: He ranked third on the team last season in total tackles with 78 stops. He played especially well in the Liberty Bowl against Georgia, registering six tackles and his first interception of the season. He had a career-best 17 tackles against Houston, including 1.5 of them being tackles for a loss.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Linam is a quiet, unassuming type, but he will be looked to take on more of a leadership role this season created by the departure of his close friend and roommate, Bruce Miller. Linam finally lived up to his massive potential last season, winning the starting middle linebacker job with a strong performance throughout preseason practice. He proved himself durable and up to the challenge by holding onto it throughout the year and starting all 14 games. His play against Georgia in the Liberty Bowl was good to see considering that he will be expected to be a stopper in the middle this season for the Knights.

WHERE HE'S BETTER: He suffered through an injury-riddled spring, but he should be healthy and ready to go by the start of fall camp. Already a steady run-stuffer, UCF needs him to be more of a ball hawk and aggressive in pass coverage this season. The Houston game was one of Linam's best of the season, but a dropped interception nearly cost the Knights the game. Linam will also be expected to be a leader in a linebacking corps where several young and inexperienced players will see big minutes.

UCF 2011 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.