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CB Nevelle Clarke is Coming Back for His Senior Season

The Miami native, who graduated last semester, was a first-team all-AAC selection in 2018.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In my estimation, there were three UCF Knights from this season’s team who were clear candidates to skip their senior year and declare for the NFL Draft.

The most obvious among them, defensive tackle Trysten Hill, publicized his jump to the pros almost immediately after the Fiesta Bowl. Wide receiver Dredrick Snelson followed him this past weekend.

But No. 3 on that list and No. 14 in the programs, cornerback Nevelle Clarke, is returning to UCF.

Knightline Sports was first to report the news, which was confirmed by Clarke’s father and the UCF football program shortly thereafter on Wednesday.

Norman Clarke wrote in responses to his post that Nevelle’s decision to return to UCF had nothing to do with improving his NFL stock but that coming back to college for one more year “would automatically improve it.”

Clarke had a good statistical season in 2018, logging 46 tackles, four tackles for loss, 13 pass breakups and two interceptions. He was also named to the All-AAC first team. There were times when he got burned for gambling too much in coverage, but overall, I am a slightly surprised that Clarke has chosen to come back.

He has been a starter for two AAC title teams — one that won a national championship and on another that went 12-0 prior to this year’s Fiesta Bowl. Plus, he graduated in December. He has accomplished more than most in college football and with a degree in hand, now would seem to be a good time for him to try to make it in the pros.

His reason to return could be as simple as he just wants to be around his UCF teammates for one final ride. We’ll surely get an answer as to why from Nevelle at some point this year; he’s not shy about speaking frankly in front of the media, so for purely selfish professional reasons, I’m very happy that he is coming back.

And for the Knights’ defense, Clarke’s decision is a pretty big positive as well. UCF will now field three-fourths of its 2018 starting secondary next season, with Clarke roaming alongside cornerback Brandon Moore and safety Richie Grant again. Safety Antwan Collier, who like Moore and Grant will be a junior in 2019, is the odds-on favorite to replace departed senior Kyle Gibson in the lineup.