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

July 19, 2011

Read John Denton's Knights Insider | Follow us on Twitter | Get social with the Knights on Facebook

By John Denton

ORLANDO (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 Liberty Bowl and the Conference USA championship. UCF defeated Georgia 10-6 in Memphis on Dec. 31 for the school's first-ever bowl victory.

UCF also entered the national rankings for the first time ever 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 just weeks away 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: Jordan Rae


HEIGHT, WEIGHT, CLASS: 6-2, 272, Redshirt Junior


BEST ON-FIELD TRAITS: Exceptionally smart and mature, Rae makes up for what he might lack in size on the football field with his intelligence, guile and guts.

2010 STATISTICS: He started 13 of 14 games last season, missing only the Houston game because of a severely sprained ankle. He shocked many when he returned to the starting lineup a week later and thrived all season as a first-year starter.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The center position was a big question mark entering last season for offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe and offensive line coach Brent Key, but Rae turned it into a position of strength with his play. Despite being a converted defensive lineman and having never started a game before last season, Rae was able to handle most of the line calls for UCF and held his own in the trenches.

WHERE HE'S BETTER: Rae has worked hard this offseason to improve his strength and add size so that he can become an even more effective drive blocker in the run game. His play in the middle of the line was a big reason why the Knights were one of just two schools in the nation last season to have three players (Jeff Godfrey, Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver) with at least 10 rushing touchdowns. Even on a line with seasoned veterans such as Nick Pieschel and Cliff McCray, Rae is a leader because of his toughness and smarts.

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.

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