Summer practice is right around the corner, and it’s in this downtime period that the UCF Knights football staff gets a lot of the hard office work, as Josh Heupel and his coaching staff plan out the roster going forward, looking at recruiting tape, and figuring out what their needs are going to be in the next recruiting cycle.
College Football is a constant battle against roster attrition. In 2019, UCF lost 22 seniors, but signed 26 newcomers. And that’s just due to graduation - never mind injuries, academics, or guys just deciding they have had it with football. The work is never done.
So what work does UCF have to do this coming year in recruiting?
I broke down the roster by position and class. We didn’t count whether guys were redshirts or not, since functionally that doesn’t really matter in this case with regard to overall eligibility.
Here’s a snapshot of the roster as of today:
UCF Football’s 2019 Roster by Class and Position
A few notes:
- McKenzie Milton is listed as a senior, although he will in all likelihood redshirt in 2019, obviously.
- Otis Anderson is officially listed as a WR/RB, but we counted him as a running back for this exercise.
So here’s what we noticed:
UCF is quite young heading into 2019
The Knights have 16 seniors on the roster heading into this year, and again, McKenzie Milton is officially listed as one of them, so technically it’s 15. That’s 11 fewer than last year’s seniors. In total, the senior class makes up about 17% of the roster (16 of 96).
Of those, only three - Nevelle Clarke, Jake Brown, and Brendon Hayes - are redshirt seniors who have spent all five years at UCF. This is significant because their true freshman campaign was 2015 - the 0-12 year. So they’ve seen it all.
O-Line is going to take the biggest hit after this year
UCF is pretty well set up nicely in all positions, but the offensive line is going to take the biggest hit after the 2019 season. UCF has four seniors up front, and here are their career games played and starts:
- Josh McMullen - 13 games, no starts (JC transfer in 2018)
- Jordan Johnson - 39 games, 38 starts
- Trevor Elbert - 13 games, no starts (JC transfer in 2018)
- Jake Brown - 32 games, 25 starts
Now, it’s not a devastating blow, but Jordan Johnson will leave a massive hole to fill at center, and Jake Brown started all 13 games as a junior as well. Fortunately, those four guys are exactly 25% of the O-Line unit, which is pretty much exactly where you should be each year.
Backs, Wideouts, or both?
UCF has exactly four true running backs on the roster:
- Adrian Killins Jr. (Senior)
- Greg McCrae (Junior)
- Bentavious Thompson (R-Sophomore)
- Trillion Coles (R-Freshman)
UCF also has 11 true wide receivers on the roster, with Otis Anderson listed as a WR/RB.
I’m not really sure if this is a problem or not, because in Josh Heupel’s offense, just like Scott Frost, whether you’re a WR or RB is a mostly useless distinction. Adrian Killins could like up outside, and Marlon Williams can (and has) lined up in the backfield. You could do the same with several others. Such is the nature of positionless offensive football.
- Five juniors in the WR corps and seven in the secondary mean UCF is going to have to stock up on those positions in 2021.
- UCF has 19 upperclassmen on defense, compared to 29 underclassmen.
- On offense, there are 21 upperclassmen and 22 underclassmen.
Make what you will of this breakdown, but UCF is positioned to still be very good going forward. Although they lost plenty of key seniors from last year, the recruiting stocks brought in by both Scott Frost and Josh Heupel have more than filled in some of the losses post-George O’Leary. As long as these classes pan out as expected, UCF should be more than fine going forward from a depth perspective.