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UCF’s NFL Alumni to See Plenty of Action in Primetime

The NFL schedule has officially been released.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL schedule has just been released after much discussion and anticipation. Unlike other sport leagues, the NFL is planning on a full seventeen week season, however, the league created some contingencies within the schedule by having the four interconference match-ups covering the first four weeks of the season. It takes away some chances for intriguing primetime match-ups, but these games are the most expendable should there be a delay in the season as a result of COVID-19.

Let’s assume the role of the optimist where the season kicks off without a hitch. Every team gets at least one primetime game. The NFL has a flexible scheduling process. In weeks 5-17, a Sunday afternoon game can be flexed and switch places with the scheduled Sunday night game, thus putting it on primetime television. Up to two games may be flexed during weeks 5 through 10. There is no pre-scheduled Sunday night game for Week 17. This is done to maximize the matchup on Sunday night. Also, in weeks 15 and 16, up to three games will be moved from Sunday to Saturday and will be decided later in the season.

There are plenty of opportunities for UCF Knights alums to be on the field in primetime. Let’s look at it from a division by division list.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Week 6 vs Kansas City (Thursday)
Week 13 at San Francisco (Monday)
Week 14 vs Pittsburgh (Sunday)
Week 16 at New England (Monday)

Gabriel Davis - WR

Gabe Davis UCF
Gabriel Davis
Photo: Derek Warden

Gabe Davis was drafted in the 4th round of the 2020 draft after a stellar career at UCF. He’s currently fifth on the depth chart at wide receiver, so his chances of seeing the field might be slim. The Bills will be in primetime three times late in the season, which would be better for Davis’ chances.

New York Jets

Week 4 vs Denver (Thursday)
Week 9 vs New England (Monday)

Breshad Perriman - WR

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions
Breshad Perriman
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

While Perriman probably will never escape the dreaded B-word(bust) as a first round pick that fizzled, he has put together a pair of serviceable seasons over the last two years that helped land him his best chance at building a career. Despite signing a one year contract, he’s expected to be one of the starting wide receivers, so when the Jets are on TV, expect to see plenty of Perriman in the two games the Jets have.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

Week 2 at Cleveland (Thursday)
Week 15 vs Pittsburgh (Monday)

Jordan Franks - TE

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Jordan Franks
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Franks’ best season with the Bengals was in 2018 where he saw the field a few times on offense as well as special teams. He’s been on and off the practice squad for much of 2019 with a late season activation. While Franks is still on the roster, he’s buried down enough on the depth chart that he’s not expected to play any offensive snaps.

Cleveland Browns

Week 2 vs Cincinnati (Thursday)
Week 14 vs Baltimore (Monday)

Charley Hughlett - LS

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Charley Hughlett
Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

Hughlett has been the starting long snapper for the Browns for a number of years. That isn’t expected to change, so he will be on the field for all kicking and punting opportunities.

AFC South

Houston Texans

Week 1 at Kansas City (Thursday)
Week 12 at Detroit (Thursday)

Jordan Akins - TE

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Jordan Akins
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As the second tight end on the Texans’ depth chart, Jordan Akins sees the field plenty. Over the last two seasons, he has 15 starts and has improved his standing within the offense, being targeted 55 times in 2019. Akins ended up playing over 60% of offensive snaps last season along with some special teams play. It’s safe to say that he will be on the field for a reasonable amount of plays when the Texans are on.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Week 3 vs Miami (Thursday)

Nate Evans - LB

NCAA Football: Central Florida at South Florida
Nate Evans
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As an undrafted free agent, getting on the roster is always an uphill battle. Evans is listed as the fourth middle linebacker on the roster. If he catches on, it is not expected that he plays any defensive snaps. Special teams is always a possibility. The Jaguars only play in primetime once this season.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Week 1 vs Tennessee (Monday)
Week 4 at New York Jets (Thursday)
Week 13 at Kansas City (Sunday)

A.J. Bouye - CB

NFL: New York Jets at Jacksonville Jaguars
A.J. Bouye
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Bouye is a UDFA success story. It took some time to catch on, but Bouye has established himself as one of the better cornerbacks in the league. His career is highlighted by a Pro Bowl invite in 2016, which was followed by a large new contract. While he has not been able to replicate that level of success, he’s still expected to be a starting cornerback and on the field plenty for the Broncos as he was traded in the offseason. The Broncos play one of their three primetime games in Week 1, which could be an issue if the season gets delayed.

Las Vegas Raiders

Week 2 vs New Orleans (Monday)
Week 7 vs Tampa Bay (Sunday)
Week 11 vs Kansas City (Sunday)
Week 15 vs Los Angeles Chargers (Thursday)

D.J. Killings - CB

NFL: AUG 16 Preseason - Eagles at Patriots
D.J. Killings
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Killings has been a fringe roster player, often occupying a practice squad spot. It’s not expected to see him on the field at all for the Raiders. The Raiders get the chance to show off their new home in Las Vegas as four of their eight home games will be in primetime.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Week 1 at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday)
Week 6 vs Arizona (Monday)
Week 8 at Philadelphia (Sunday)
Week 12 vs Washington (Thursday)
Week 13 at Baltimore (Thursday)
Week 15 vs San Francisco (Sunday)

Trysten Hill - DT

Trysten Hill

In his rookie campaign, Hill saw the field in seven games, but failed to live up to expectations. He’s currently second on the depth chart at right defensive tackle, and should he stay on the team, could find his way into the defensive rotation and continue to get on the field. A potential telling sign of his status was when the Cowboys drafted defensive lineman Neville Gallimore in this year’s draft. Hill was a favored project of coach Rod Marinelli, who is no longer with the team. Dallas has a whopping six primetime games, so it is possible for Hill to have more appearances than any other UCF alum.

Wyatt Miller - OT

New York Jets v New York Giants
Wyatt Miller
Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

Wyatt is third on the depth chart at right tackle, so he is not expected to see the field unless injuries mount up.

Philadelphia Eagles

Week 4 at San Francisco (Sunday)
Week 7 vs New York Giants ( Thursday)
Week 8 vs Dallas (Sunday)
Week 12 vs Seattle (Monday)

Adrian Killins Jr - RB

NCAA Football: South Florida at Central Florida
Adrian Killins Jr
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

After a spectacular four year career at UCF, Killins ended up in Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent. As an undersized running back, he is definitely a project. Killins benefits from working with coach Doug Pedersen’s offensive scheme, which made good use of another fast running back in Darren Sproles. Like Killins, Sproles was a small back, but unlike Killins, Sproles was very strong. Sproles is on the team’s staff as a consultant, so it is assumed he will work with Killins. Killins is going to need to put on quite a bit of muscle if he’s going to find a place on the roster. Philadelphia only has one primetime game on the back half of the season, which might hurt Killins’ chances of being seen.

NFC North

Detroit Lions

Week 12 vs Houston (Thursday)

Matt Prater - K

NFL: Detroit Lions at Denver Broncos
Matt Prater
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The elder statesman of UCF players in the NFL, Prater has been around since the 2007 season and a mainstay since 2008. Prater owns the NFL record for the longest made field goal at 64 yards, set in 2013, which was one of his two Pro Bowl seasons. His numbers started to taper off a little last season as a whole, but even at age 36, he continues to be consistent from 50 yards plus and will see the field plenty this season. Detroit plays in primetime once, so Prater is at least guaranteed one kickoff.

Minnesota Vikings

Week 5 at Seattle (Sunday)
Week 10 at Chicago (Monday)
Week 16 at New Orleans (Thursday)

Nevelle Clarke - CB

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Pittsburgh
Nevelle Clarke
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Another UDFA from the 2020 draft, Nevelle Clarke walks into an interesting situation in Minnesota. The Vikings have a young cornerback corps where rookie Jeff Gladney is expected to be a starter. While it is an uphill climb, Clarke has a legitimate opportunity to climb on to the back end of the roster. With getting a portion of his first year contract guaranteed, it should help Clarke stick around. It is not expected that he sees the field this season outside of maybe a special teams appearance.

Mike Hughes - CB

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Hughes
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Hughes is a UCF legend despite playing for only one season, which is a story in itself. His outstanding play led him to be drafted in the first round by the Vikings. After injuries cut his rookie year short, he bounced back in 2019, playing on almost half of the team’s defensive snaps. Despite quarterbacks having a 90+ passing rating against him, Hughes improved in his defensive metrics. After some roster changes, he’s penciled in as a starting cornerback and should be on the field for most defensive snaps. The Vikings play three primetime games, including one against New Orleans where Hughes might be lined up against former UCF teammate Tre’Quan Smith.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Week 4 at Green Bay (Monday)
Week 8 at Carolina (Thursday)

Justin McCray - G/T

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos
Justin McCray
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Justin McCray is another example of combining perseverance with opportunity. It took until his fourth season in the NFL to finally get on a roster full time and see the field. In 2017, he ended up in the line rotation and started eight games with another five starts the following season. Despite being traded in 2019, his versatility got him back on the field with four more starts. Even though the number of plays have decreased each of the last three years, he still landed a one year deal with Atlanta. McCray is listed as both the backup right tackle and third right guard.

New Orleans Saints

Week 2 at Las Vegas (Monday)
Week 3 vs Green Bay (Sunday)
Week 5 vs Los Angeles Chargers (Monday)
Week 9 at Tampa Bay (Sunday)
Week 16 vs Minnesota (Thursday)

Latavius Murray - RB

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Latavius Murray
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The hero of UCF’s first bowl victory, Latavius Murray has built himself a nice career. His best season was in 2015 where he rushed for over 1000 yards and made the Pro Bowl. While he’s never reached the 1000 mark since, he’s still been able to be a reliable back. Murray is firmly entrenched as the second running back on the Saints and sees plenty of action. Despite not being the starter, he still sees the field regularly spelling Alvin Kamara.

Tre’Quan Smith - WR

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
Tre’Quan Smith
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being on the field for almost half of the Saints’ offensive plays, Smith has been somewhat of a disappointment. He gets plenty of catches and touchdowns, but his numbers should be better. Smith is penciled in as the third starting wide receiver, but with the versatile Taysom Hill around, he could potentially lose playing time if he doesn’t step up. Either way, Smith should be on the field plenty when the Saints go marching in your living room. As mentioned above, the Saints play the Vikings late in the season in primetime and Smith could end up lining against Mike Hughes.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

Week 2 vs New England (Sunday)
Week 5 vs Minnesota (Sunday)
Week 11 vs Arizona (Thursday)
Week 12 at Philadelphia (Monday)

Shaquem Griffin - LB

NFL: Preseason-Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Shaquem Griffin
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Another UCF legend, Shaquem Griffin has struggled to find his way on the field outside of special teams. He received his first and only start in his first career game and since then, he hasn’t seen the field much. He did start to see the field more during the second half of the season, but his snap count was still limited. While he’s been good on special teams and should continue to be on the field, it’s hit or miss if he will be on the field defensively.

Shaquill Griffin - CB

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Shaquill Griffin
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The other Griffin twin has been a mainstay in the Seahawks defensive backfield from day one. At his lowest, he was on the field for 80% of the team’s defensive snaps during his rookie season. Continuing to improve, he cemented his status by making the Pro Bowl in 2019 despite not recording a single interception. He continues to be a starting cornerback and will be on the field the vast majority of the game. The Seahawks have four primetime games, including three at home, where they are notoriously difficult to defeat.

There you have it. UCF is well represented in the NFL and multiple alums should grace our television sets in primetime this fall.