Another successful recruiting classes in the books for the UCF Knights. And, everything continues to point in a positive direction with most outlets ranking the Knights with the best recruiting class in the American Atheltic Conference. This as, the second National Signing Day concluded on Wednesday.
However, just like many other college programs this February, one of the outstanding question marks for the upcoming season remains: what exactly will the Knights do at quarterback for this fall?
As you’re probably aware, their electrifying leader on offense, McKenzie Milton, was injured horribly in the regular season finale against USF last November. It is highly unlikely that Milton would be able to play at all this season, and honestly, may never play football again after the injury.
The Knights turned to redshirt freshman Darriel Mack to quarterback then the rest of the way in that game and also during their American Conference Championship game win over Memphis the following week. Mack lead UCF into the Fiesta Bowl against LSU ,but was largely ineffective trying to throw the football, as the Tigers up ended the Knights 25 game win streak on New Year’s Day.
UCF had already announced that Notre Dame graduate transfer QB Brandon Wimbush is now with the program and has been working out in preparing for spring football. However, at his Signing Day press conference Wednesday, Coach Josh Heupel made it very clear that the job is not being handed to Wimbush:
That's a wrap on the Class of #Knighteen‼️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) February 6, 2019
Wimbush just completed his redshirt junior season and was a successful starter in 2017. Wimbush threw for over 1,800 yards and rushed for over another 600 leading Notre Dame to a 10-2 record. He also set the Irish record for rushing TDs by a quarterback with 14 for that year.
However, he went to the bench this past season after the first three games being replaced by coach Brian Kelly in favor of Ian Book. Book led the Irish to six consecutive wins to get their record to 9- 0 before suffering a rib injury against Northwestern.
Wimbush replaced him in Notre Dame’s 42-13 romp over Florida State (above) in South Bend on November 10th. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for 68 yards in that victory.
Book then returned for the last two wins over Syracuse and USC to finish a perfect regular season. The Fighting Irish were blown out by eventual National Champion Clemson in the Cotton Bowl 30-3.
Back to Heupel on Wednesday, he said that he’s very pleased with the fact that Winbush does have big game experience over the past two seasons playing for Notre Dame and it’s great to have “competitiveness” in their QB room.
And that leads us to a third quarterback in the mix, and it is another freshman from Hawaii. Straight out of the mold of McKenzie Milton three years ago: Dillon Gabriel will come to the mainland from Mililani, Hawaii where he threw for nearly 10,000 yards and 105 touchdowns in his career and ended up breaking the Hawaii High School career record for passing yards.
Gabriel is 6 ft and 185 lb and similarly built in that regard to Milton. However, he’s not the same runner that Milton is, at least at this stage.
So, needless to say, there will be serious competition for playing time starting in the Spring and then, when we get to this fall in Orlando.
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