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KJ Jefferson Makes UCF a Legit Big 12 Title Contender in 2024

Knights add Arkansas QB via Transfer Portal

Auburn v Arkansas
QB KJ Jefferson
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s a Happy New Year for Gus Malzahn, as former Arkansas QB transfer KJ Jefferson announced his commitment to UCF as a graduate student.

Jefferson is the biggest addition via the transfer portal in the Gus Malzahn Era, and makes the UCF Knights a legit Big 12 title contender in 2024.

Jefferson brings experience with 39 career starts, as he has been the Razorbacks’ full-time starter for the past three seasons, breaking their program record for career passing yards and TD passes, and winning two bowl MVP awards in the process. He will be 23 years old when the season starts.

He’s also huge at 6-3 and 247 pounds. Look at these highlights from this past season:

And that was with a bad offensive line. Check out his junior year:

In his career, Jefferson has passed for 7,923 yards on 65% completions with 67 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. He’s also a rushing threat with 1,876 career yards on the ground with 21 touchdowns.

KJ Jefferson’s Career Stats

Season Gms Comp Att Comp% Pass Yds Pass TD INT Rating Rush Rush Yds Avg Rush TD Total Yds Total YPG Total TDs
Season Gms Comp Att Comp% Pass Yds Pass TD INT Rating Rush Rush Yds Avg Rush TD Total Yds Total YPG Total TDs
2019 3 14 31 45.2 197 0 1 92.1 30 58 1.9 2 255 85.0 2
2020 5 20 41 48.8 295 3 0 133.4 28 67 2.4 2 362 72.4 5
2021 13 198 294 67.3 2676 21 4 164.7 146 664 4.5 6 3340 256.9 27
2022 11 204 300 68.0 2636 24 5 164.9 158 640 4.1 9 3276 297.8 33
2023 12 190 296 64.2 2107 19 8 139.8 161 447 2.8 2 2554 212.8 21
Career 44 626 962 65.1 7911 67 18 153.4 523 1876 3.6 21 9787 222.4 88
2019: Redshirt season Source: Sports-Reference.com

If Malzahn and UCF Offense Coordinator and QB Coach Darin Hinshaw went into a lab to build a QB for their system, they would build someone like Jefferson.

Jefferson has been compared to former Auburn star Cam Newton, whom Malzahn coached at Auburn. Jefferson is a perfect fit in Malzahn's offense and has a chance to be as successful at UCF as Newton was at Auburn.

The band’s coming back

This should be by far Malzahn’s best offense at UCF. Under Jefferson, UCF should be one of the best offenses in the Big 12 in 2024 with RB RJ Harvey, WRs Javon Baker and Kobe Hudson, and OL Amari Kight, Marcellus Marshall, and Adrian Medley all expected to return.

Hudson announced his intent to return shortly after Jefferson’s announcement on Monday.

UCF’s quarterback plan now appears clear in the short and long term.

Jefferson will be the starting QB in 2024 for his lone year of eligibility. This will allow young QBs Dylan Rizk, Riley Trujillio, and EJ Colson to develop in 2024 with the goal being that one of them is ready to start in 2025.

Immediate Title Contender?

Jefferson’s arrival makes UCF a title contender in the new look Big 12 as the Knights now have a QB who can match up in a league that should be stacked at quarterback with Kansas’ Jalon Daniels, Utah’s Cam Rising, Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders, and Arizona’s Noah Fifita.

2024 also marks the start of the 12-team College Football Playoff era. UCF fans will have high expectations in 2024 with hopes of contending for a conference championship and making the playoffs. With KJ on board, those expectations are now realistic.