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

July 8, 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-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: Cliff McCray

POSITION: Offensive Guard

HEIGHT, WEIGHT, CLASS: 6-2, 305, Redshirt Senior


BEST ON-FIELD TRAITS: The longest-tenured Knight, McCray is a smart, dependable lineman who should bring experience and grit to a veteran offensive line this season.

2010 STATISTICS: McCray was in and out of the starting lineup last season because of an ankle injury, but he still played a major role in helping the Knights dominate contests with the running game. UCF was one of just two schools in the country with three players (Latavius Murray, Jeff Godfrey and Ronnie Weaver) with at least 10 rushing touchdowns.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: McCray got great news last spring when he was granted two additional years of eligibility by the NCAA. He'll be a starter this season and he'll likely get to play with his younger brothers, Justin and Jordan, along the UCF offensive line. McCray will anchor the left side of the line along with tackle Chris Martin. He's smart and tough and when he speaks teammates listen, so his leadership will be big for the team.

WHERE HE'S BETTER: UCF's returners along the offensive line have a whopping 87 career starts, and McCray is one of the most experienced. He and center Jordan Rae are two of the smartest players on the team, so defenses likely won't be able to confuse them with changing fronts along the line. McCray is also highly motivated to be playing alongside of his younger brothers and he hopes to serve as a mentor for the twins this season.

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.