Ten UCF Knights have opted out of the 2020 football season. Head coach Josh Heupel ran down the full list of names, which includes a conference championship-winning quarterback and multiple starters on defense, during a press conference Tuesday:
#UCF head coach Josh Heupel says 10 players have opted out of the 2020 season:— Brian Murphy (@Spokes_Murphy) September 1, 2020
QB Darriel Mack Jr.
CB Tay Gowan
DL Kalia Davis
DL Mason Cholewa
CB Devunte Dawson
OL Allan Adams
OL Lamarius Benson
DB Elijah Benoit
OL Adrian Medley
DL Kendrick Wilson
Darriel Mack Jr. was entering his fourth season as a Knight. He has started only three games in his career, but two of them were the come-from-behind victory over Memphis in the 2018 American Athletic Conference championship game and the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl versus LSU.
Redshirt senior Tay Gowan might be the biggest loss on paper. A second-team all-conference player in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus, opposing quarterbacks registered a paltry 44.7 rating when targeting Gowan last season. Gowan started nine games in his first year at UCF and was slated to begin this season as the Knights’ top cornerback.
I wanted to tell you guys first ...— Tay Gowan (@focused_4) September 1, 2020
Redshirt junior Kalia Davis was a first-team all-conference selection by PFF and started the last nine games at defensive tackle in 2019. A converted linebacker, Davis ranked third on the team in sacks (three). He was credited with pressuring the quarterback on 12.8% of his pass-rush snaps last season, per PFF, and was stout against the run.
Redshirt junior Mason Cholewa saw significant time as a reserve defensive tackle last year. He contributed four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Devunte Dawson, a JUCO transfer from Texas, announced his decision to opt out last month. The redshirt junior was likely to see action as a backup cornerback.
Allan Adams, Lamarius Benson and Adrian Medley are all backup offensive linemen. Benson, a redshirt sophomore, played in nine games last season while Adams and Medley spent most of freshman year working with the scout team.
Elijah Benoit is a redshirt junior who appeared in seven games in 2019, split between defensive back and special teams.
Defensive end Kendrick Wilson is the only true freshman of the group. He is a three-star recruit out of Miami.
Black and Gold Banneret will have much more on how these opt-out decisions impact the UCF football team in the hours and days to come.