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UCF Has Found Its New Running Backs Coach

The Knights filled a coaching vacancy created by Anthony Tucker’s departure to Utah State

Central Florida v South Florida
Bentavious Thompson and UCF’s other running backs will be coached by Matt Merritt in 2021.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The UCF Knights have reportedly filled the one known vacancy on their coaching staff.

The Knights are tabbing Matt Merritt to be their new running backs coach, replacing Anthony Tucker, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Utah State last month.

The hire was first reported Tuesday by FootballScoop and later confirmed by the Daily News-Record in Virginia.

Merritt spent the past two years coaching the running backs at James Madison University on the FCS level. He filled the same role at Elon University during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He was an assistant RBs coach at Ohio State from 2013-15 and helped mentor the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Carlos Hyde while there.

In 2019, James Madison’s most recent season, Merritt oversaw a four-back rotation which racked up 3,224 rushing yards and 39 rushing touchdowns. One of the players under his tutelage was former UCF Knight RB Juwon Hamilton. He ran for 919 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry that year.

At UCF, Merritt will be tasked with getting the most out of the Knights’ current crop of backs: Bentavious Thompson, Damarius Good, Johnny Richardson, Trillion Coles, RJ Harvey and incoming freshman Anthony Williams.

The Knights averaged 210.7 rushing yards per game in 2020, the third-most in the AAC and 25th-most in the FBS. But about 75 percent of the team’s rush yards by RBs were provided by Greg McCrae and Otis Anderson, and both of them have declared for the NFL Draft.