Knights Report: Aug. 8

ORLANDO ( – Last Wednesday, the UCF football team opened up camp for the 2018 season. This Wednesday, the Knights completed practice number seven of the preseason under head coach Josh Heupel, competing in Nicholson Fieldhouse for two hours.

ChargeOn Tour on Deck
Heupel will take part in the final stop of the 2018 ChargeOn Tour this Friday when he joins Vice President and Director of Athletics Danny White, President Dale Whittaker and other UCF coaches at Wall Street Plaza in Downtown Orlando to address and meet with fans. The event is free to the public and starts at 6:30 p.m.
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Speedy in the 407
The Alliance of American Football announced its first 100 players this week, and the Orlando team named former UCF wide receiver Rannell “Speedy” Hall to its squad. Hall, a First Team All-Conference receiver for the Knights, helped lead UCF to its 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory over Baylor with four catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
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Sports Illustrated Picks Knights 17th in Preseason Poll’s Andy Staples says of the Knights, “UCF is in good hands with Heupel leading the way.”
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Assistant Head Coach Willie Martinez
On experience in the secondary…
“The great thing about experience is there’s obviously a culture that’s been built here in leadership. When you’ve got guys who have played for as much as they’ve played together, they feel comfortable, and they also do a good job with some of the younger guys in showing them how to do things, how to correct things, don’t get too high, don’t get too low. It’s showing up here in camp. When you look at the second and third group that goes in there, they’ve done a good job of relaying that message and really setting the standard of how things should be done.”

On the depth…
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys who are really talented. We’ve got enough at the safety position. We’ve got enough at the corner position, and also at the nickel position. Some of it is inexperienced, but if we stay healthy I think we have enough guys to give us the depth that we want for the whole season. Now you can’t predict what’s going to happen down the road, but we feel comfortable with who we have right now.”

On Nevelle Clarke
“He’s shown nothing but consistency since we’ve been here. The great thing about Nevelle is that he’s probably the hardest working guy out here – or one of them – and he’s got that kind of reputation from the staff, and obviously the players, his peers, and when you have his skill set, his size, his athleticism, he goes really hard, he’s a high effort guy, that’s going to set you up for a lot of success. He’s shown that through spring ball and even here early on in camp. We want him to keep doing that. He’s setting the example for some of the other guys. It’s great for the younger guys to see. That’s what the standard is supposed to be like.”

On the value of Kyle Gibson
“Kyle’s been here for a long time. He’s been through three staffs. To have his energy that he has, and his ability; he’s got a bad case of the wants, I like to say a lot of times. He wants to be great. He wants to do it the right way. It’s important to him. Any time you have a guys who’s older like that and has that kind of an attitude, it’s only going to help your team.”

On the freshmen in the secondary…
“All four guys that we got here, we’re extremely excited (about). It starts with Jermaine McMillian and Derek Gainous, who we got here at the mid-year point and they have made tremendous strides. They took advantage of being here and coming early. And then you had Dyllon Lester and Trey Green come in, and they are stepping up. They’re going to be contributors this year. All four of those guys are doing a really good job. We’re really pleased.”

Junior Quarterback McKenzie Milton
On the feel of camp so far…
“I think one of the main things is that a lot of the guys are out there competing. With a new coaching staff, a lot of guys are fighting for a starting job. Guys are out there working. There hasn’t been a day in camp that hasn’t been highly competitive, both offensively and defensively, so I think it’s been real good.” 

On Tre Nixon
“He comes to work every day. He’s been a starter since spring ball and he’s continued that. The main thing I love about Tre is that he’s always playing full speed. There’s never any hesitation with him, which I think is essential. Especially as a quarterback, reading his routes and what he’s trying to do, I think that’s big. He brings the best out of guys that are guarding him. He brings the best out of the guys around him.”

On comparing the receivers to last season’s crew…
“I think the receiving corps is really good. I think they have a chance to be better, in all honesty. Only time will tell, obviously. Tre’Quan’s a special player, and I don’t think you can replace a guy like that in the sense of in the locker room, his veteran leadership, but guys are ready to step up. Gabe Davis has taken huge strides since his freshman year. He’ll be a great guy. Snelson, it’s his third year, Otis Anderson is going to be playing a lot in the slot and at running back. There are playmakers all over. We’re going to have a lot of yards, a lot of touchdowns.”

On who has been stepping up…
“Obviously Kyle Gibson. He’s been here a long time, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement in him in these seven days. There will be times when I get him moved to the opposite side of the field and then have a one-on-one with the corner, but now he’s kind of reading me, so we’re just bettering each other out there. I think our DBs are really good. I think Nevelle Clarke’s going to be very good. Brandon Moore. A lot of guys are making strides, that’s what camp’s for.”

Senior Safety Kyle Gibson
On learning from Shaquem Griffin
“To be honest, it’s pretty hard to follow Shaquem, but seeing how he led and just being a great leader, it came so natural to him. I talk to him and he tells me different things. I try to follow him in the different things that he was able to do, being vocal. He was a great example.”

Sophomore Wide Receiver Tre Nixon
On the transition…
“It’s been real smooth. The one thing I realized about this team on day one is there’s a real brotherhood. They accepted me on day one and that’s just a good feeling to be comfortable with the guys. It makes the process easier, to learn, pickup plays easier. It was real smooth.” 

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