UCF Lands Nine on Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big 12 Teams

by Justin Wilson

ORLANDO – Ahead of its second season as a member of the Big 12 Conference, UCF football had nine players named to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-Big 12 Teams. Wide receiver Kobe Hudson, defensive tackle Lee Hunter and defensive end Malachi Lawrence earned first-team honors, while running back RJ Harvey and linebacker Deshawn Pace were selected to the second team.

Xavier Townsend earned third-team accolades as a punt returner and offensive lineman Amari Kight, defensive tackle Ricky Barber and defensive back Brandon Adams garnered a spot on the fourth team.

First Team Selections

Kobe Hudson | WR | 5th Yr | Pine Mountain, Ga.

  • Appeared in all 13 games for UCF in 2023, starting 12
  • Honorable mention pick on the All-Big 12 team chosen by league coaches
  • Second-leading UCF receiver in ’23 with 44 receptions for 900 yards and eight TDs, tied for the third most receiving TDs in the Big 12
  • Second team pick on College Football Network Midseason All-Big 12 offensive team 

Lee Hunter | DT | r-Jr. | Mobile, Ala.

  • Started all 13 games for the Knights in ‘23
  • Honorable mention selection on the All-Big 12 team chosen by league coaches
  • Third-leading UCF tackler with 69
  • Made more tackles in ’23 than any other DT in the nation, according to Pro Football Focus

Malachi Lawrence | DE | r-Jr. | Louisville, Ky.

  • Had a breakout redshirt sophomore season in 2023, appearing in all 13 games
  • Honorable mention defensive line pick on All-Big 12 team chosen by league coaches
  • Registered 27 tackles, including 10.5 tackles for loss for 68 yds in ’23
  • Ranked fifth in Big 12 with 0.58 sacks per game

Second-Team Selections

RJ Harvey | RB | 5th Yr | Orlando, Fla.

  • Honorable Mention RB pick on All-Big 12 team chosen by league coaches
  • Semifinalist for Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s best running back
  • Leading UCF rusher with 226 attempts for 1,416 yards (fourth most in a single season at UCF)
  • His 16 rushing touchdowns tied for second in a single season at UCF

Deshawn Pace | LB | 5th Yr | Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Honorable mention All-Big 12 selection by league coaches
  • Finished his Cincinnati career with 247 tackles, 25.5 tackles for loss (57 yards), three sacks (15 yards), six interceptions, 14 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two blocked kicks
  • Led team with 80 tackles (11th in Big 12 at 7.3 per game) and added team-high 11 tackles for loss (18 yards) in 2023
  • Appeared in every game for the Bearcats last season before joining the Knights in January

Third-Team Selection

Xavier Townsend | WR/PR | Jr. | Tampa, Fla.

  • Started in 10 of 11 games in ’23, missing two games due to injury
  • Third-leading receiver on the Knights with 33 catches for 325 yards and three TDs
  • Tallied 142 punt return yards in 2023 and had a punt return for a touchdown called back because of a penalty
  • Averaged 9.47 yards per punt return, the fourth best in the Big 12

Fourth-Team Selections

Amari Kight | OL | 5th Yr | Tampa, Fla.

  • Appeared in all 13 games, starting the last 10 games at right tackle
  • Graded out at 83.6 in pass blocking according to Pro Football Focus, the best among offensive lineman on the team
  • Notched a 64.8 clip in run blocking by PFF, which was the second best among UCF starters on the offensive line
  • Helped the Knights rank fourth nationally in rushing offense with 228.2 rushing yards per game

Ricky Barber | DT | 5th Yr | Louisville, Ky.

  • Played in 10 games during the 2023 season, starting each game while missing three games due to injury
  • Finished the season with 18 tackles, including two tackles for loss
  • Also tallied 1.5 sacks with a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries
  • One of six team captains during the 2023 season

Brandon Adams | DB | Sr. | Atlanta, Ga.

  • Appeared in all 13 games in ’23 for the Knights, making 10 starts
  • Registered 21 tackles (16 solo and five assisted)
  • Tallied four pass break ups and two quarterback hurries
  • Recorded a season-high four tackles in the bowl game against Georgia Tech