It’s never too early to think about next year.
Well, maybe it is for some of you but that’s our job. And with the NFL Draft, graduations, transfers and other things going down, it pays to take a look at the UCF Knights’ roster and see who’s supposed to be back on it next season.
A lot is going to change between now and the 2019 season opener against FAMU, but here’s a way-too-early, sandpaper-rough projection of who we might see starting for UCF next season.
With Wyatt Miller and Tyler Hudanick graduating, the Knights are losing a lot of experience and leadership on the offensive line. Trevor Elbert and Parker Boudreaux will have to step up in their absence, holding down the left side of the line. Sam Jackson will be key in providing depth as well.
- LT: Trevor Elbert (r-Sr.)
- LG: Parker Boudreaux (r-Jr.)
- C: Jordan Johnson (Sr.)
- RG: Cole Schneider (r-So.)
- RT: Josh McMullen (Sr.)
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Gabe Davis and Tre Nixon are going to continue to be the main threats on the outside for this UCF offense. With Dredrick Snelson declaring for the draft, look for Marlon Williams to take over the slot role in 2019.
- TE: Jake Hescock (r-Jr.)
- WR: Gabriel Davis (Jr.)
- Slot: Marlon Williams (Jr.)
- WR: Tre Nixon (r-Jr.)
It’s not a secret that Heupel has been trying to land a grad transfer at quarterback for next season. With McKenzie Milton likely redshirting, there will be a need for experience. With Mack, Quadry and Gabriel being the only quarterbacks on the roster as of right now, I think Mack has the advantage. There’s still a lot that needs to play out though.
- QB: Darriel Mack Jr. (r-So.)
- QB2: Quadry Jones (r-Fr.)
- QB3: Dillon Gabriel (Fr.)
Much like this season, I think AK and Greg are going to be split starters. Both offer different skill sets but I don’t think Heupel is going to lean on one more than the other. With Otis Anderson and Bentavious Thompson in the mix, UCF will continue to have a lethal run game.
- RB: Adrian Killins (Sr.)/Greg McCrae (Jr.)
This is the area where the Knights are most depleted. All four main defensive tackles are gone leaving those starting roles wide open. Mason Cholewa is the only remaining player to start at tackle for the Knights in 2018. Alongside him? You’re guess is as good as mine. I do think true freshman Keenan Hester will have as much of an opportunity as anyone to earn the starting job.
- DE: Kenny Turnier (r-Jr.)
- DT: Keenan Hester (Fr.)
- DT: Mason Cholewa (r-So.)
- DE: Brendon Hayes (r-Sr.)
Eriq Gilyard did a fantastic job backing up Pat Jasinski in 2018 and I think he’s going to have a huge year for the Knights in 2019. Eric Mitchell should also have a huge supporting role for this group as well.
- SLB: Shawn Burgess-Becker (r-Sr.)
- MLB: Eriq Gilyard (So.)
- WLB: Nate Evans (Sr.)
This might be the Knights’ strongest unit on defense coming into 2019. Nevelle Clarke will be back at UCF for next season, according to UCF Knightline. Expect to see a lot of Aaron Robinson in nickel situations as well.
- CB: Nevelle Clarke (r-Sr.)
- SS: Antwan Collier (Jr.)
- FS: Richie Grant (r-Jr.)
- CB: Brandon Moore (r-Jr.)
Losing your kicker, punter and long snapper is pretty big challenge for any team to overcome. Dylan Barnas was listed as the backup kicker this year and Andrew Osteen was the only other punter on the roster. UCF also landed punter Alan Kervin in this recruiting class creating a little competition for the starting job.
- PK: Dylan Barnas (r-Sr.)
- P: Andrew Osteen (r-Fr.)
- SN: Alex Ward (r-So.)
Is this a lineup that can produce another perfect regular season? We don’t know yet. But at the very least, it should be in the mix for the AAC title again.