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Will character concerns cause draft “free fall” for UCF’s Mike Hughes?

Florida Football Insiders

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Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

We are in the final stage of the evaluation process and it’s now officially, “Draft week” for all the prospects and the 32 teams. For most of them, teams have made up their mind about who’s in what position on their draft board headed to Arlington, TX, and AT&T Stadium for Thursday night.

However, there are some players either for on-field questions or more importantly now, off field questions, who are maybe in danger of the draft night “free fall” or “slide.”

The classic extreme example of this was the 2015 draft and LSU offensive tackle La’el Collins, who had all the credentials to be a top 10 first round pick that year. That’s until a former girlfriend of his, who was pregnant at the time, was murdered in Louisiana just before draft week.

Everyone from law enforcement to NFL security to the teams themselves, began to scramble for more information prior to Collins potentially being selected. It turned out that due to the cloud of the questioning, Collins went completely undrafted. It should be pointed out that he was questioned just after the draft about the homicide, but was never charged. And, he was eventually, ruled out on having any connection to the homicide.

However, the damage to his draft status that weekend was done, and, it cost Collins $15-20 million guaranteed for the beginning of his career. He eventually signed as a free agent with the Cowboys and got a three year deal for the rookie minimum. Last off season, Collins re-upped with the Cowboys on a new two year contract for just over $15 million.

Now, we get to UCF’s Mike Hughes, who clearly has the talent to be a pick by at least the second night (second and third rounds) of the draft. In fact post scouting combine, we wrote that Hughes was starting to get buzz and could possibly find his way into the first round.

However, there has been more scrutiny recently on his background. And an allegation of sexual assault from his previous stint at his first school, North Carolina in 2015.

As NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero wrote Friday, there have been plenty of questions being asked:

Pelissero obviously spoke with all sides, including vetting Hughes with the schools and talking to prospective teams that might or might not take him off their draft board.

The bottom line is: the words “sexual assault allegation” alone, will scare some teams off.

Now, as the item points out, it didn’t scare the Raiders off last April from drafting Gareon Conley with the 24th overall pick with the same words hanging out there about him. Ultimately, Conley was never charged in connection with the allegation.

Back to Hughes, he is trying to be proactive with teams and told Pelissero: “Obviously, I have to tell them everything that happened and everything that went into why I left and also what I’ve learned from it. What I tell teams is that they won’t have any issues with me if they draft me. I haven’t had any problems with the law or anything since I was at North Carolina.”

Former Bucs coach Tony Dungy has talked about repeatedly regarding draft boards he ran with the Buccaneers and the Colts, where they put the initials “D-N-D-C” next to a player’s name. Those standing for “Do Not Draft-Character,” and meaning, don’t draft them at all.

And, there will likely be a team or maybe several that will do this with Hughes’ status, even if they need a defensive back and he’s there in later rounds, where the risk is less.

Still, as the Raiders showed last year, teams do their homework and make their calls, risky or not, on taking a player. And, sometimes will go ahead and take them early.

Hughes is hoping for at least one, or maybe several that are willing to investigate, listen to him and take him on the basis that he’s stayed out of trouble in junior college and last year at UCF.

We’re about to find out, if that has worked.

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UCF Knights

Knights-QB Milton did their part in UCF Friday night romp

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

it was a “points bonanza,” as advertised in Orlando Friday night, and in the end, UCF and it’s leader looked the part of conference champ and playoff contender. This as the Knights cruised to a 56-36 easy win over in state Florida Atlantic.

We wondered if Friday would restart the Heisman Trophy hopes of QB McKenzie Milton and he delivered on a National TV stage big time and early. Milton threw or ran for the Knights first six touchdowns of the game, including this one in the third quarter, where he juked half of the Owls on the field:

The junior from Hawaii finished with 387 yards from scrimmage and is definitely one of best dual threat QBs in America that will continue to garner attention.

FAU hung in the game for awhile, largely based on their star RB Devin Singletary. Singletary, the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year, ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns, as FAU was tied at halftime.

Still, the Knights who haven’t lost a game in 600 days, notched another victory in the nation’s longest win streak. They now have 16 straight games dating back to their December bowl loss in 2016.

And if you think UCF’s squad didn’t have some fun on a Friday night in front of over 44,000 at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, think again. After the 20 point win, it was time to dance:

UCF will get a tougher test from Pitt out of the ACC next week, and then later in October, will play a huge American conference regular season road game at Memphis. The Tigers are arguably the best team in the West division and want to avenge having lost both meetings to UCF in 2017. The Knights won a thrilling double OT Championship Game in Orlando last December to lock in a bid to the Peach Bowl.

That’s where they famously stunned SEC powerhouse Auburn earlier this year on New Year’s day.

Back to the 2018 squad, coach Josh Heupel and staff had to deal with an unexpected bye week after Hurricane Florence cancelled their game at North Carolina last Saturday. Needless to say, they had UCF ready for this one.

And, that usually means Milton was ready to show college football he’s one of the players in the game.

He didn’t disappoint, again, Friday.

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UCF Knights

Will UCF QB Milton kick-start Heisman talk Friday night?

Florida Football Insiders

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With the understanding that quarterbacks of powerhouse programs like Tua Tagovailoa, Trace McSorley, and Will Grier will be getting most of the national hype throughout the seaason, in our state we know that UCF QB McKenzie Milton deserves to be consider for the Heisman, too.

The junior signal-caller for the Knights has been a bit victimized by the early part of the season and the schedule. First, Milton did get off to a tremendous start in UCF’s opening win at UConn, where he fired five touchdown passes in basically three quarters during a blowout win.

However, the following week against South Carolina State he was not sharp with a couple of early interceptions and even though UCF won impressively, Milton’s numbers of 243 yards, one touchdown and three picks jumped off the page, as a negative.

He and the Knights were looking to ramp the offense back up last weekend in a game against a Power 5 program on the road in North Carolina. But, as you probably know by now, Hurricane Florence wiped out that game, and it will not be made up.

So, it seems as though Milton’s Heisman hype which began back in the summer, has stalled out.

Well, now comes a Friday night showdown with cross-state rival FAU and something very important: national television exposure on a weeknight. You see, for a lot of the media and in particular Heisman voters, Milton’s games are not going to trump ones for Alabama, Penn State Ohio State, and the other Blue Blood programs that they would rather watch. It’s harsh, but it’s true.

So, this is an opportunity for him to light it up against an Owls defense and then, be seen and remembered for it.

FAU was bombed by Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in their opening blowout loss in Norman, OK, Labor Day weekend. And, coach Lane Kiffin has to be fearful that more of the same may be coming from the potent Knights offense.

Yes, being a shootout with FAU may be possible because they boast running back Devin “Motor” Singletary, who was the CUSA Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.

So, it may be to Milton’s benefit, if FAU can score some in this game keep it close, and Milton gets a chance to play four full quarters and do it well.

If he’s going to make up ground on Tagovailoa and McSorley in particular, who are on national television almost every game, then that’s what Milton is going to have to take advantage of opportunities present themselves.

Friday night at Spectrum Stadium is one such opportunity for Milton and his Knights teammates.

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UCF Knights

UCF freshman linebacker charged with sexual battery

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The first off-field controversy of the UCF football season has happened with the arrest of freshman linebacker Demetrius Mayes on a sexual battery charge.

The alleged incident took place Saturday night in Mayes UCF campus apartment, where a female accuser says Mayes had inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact with her in his bedroom.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the 18 year old freshman from Miami met the accuser at an off-campus party. A UCF campus police report says she woke up undressed in Mayes bedroom, as he was attempting to have sex with her. The accuser went on to tell authorities that Mayes tried to prevent her from leaving the room.

UCF police chief Carl Metzger released a statement Wednesday:

“The UCF Police Department is committed to a thorough, professional investigation of all criminal incidents reported to us, and we’re dedicated to a culture of care that starts by believing the brave survivors who seek our assistance,” Metzger said. “This survivor’s well-being will continue to be a priority for our department and our university.”

As did UCF first-year head coach Josh Heupel:

“This has no place in our program,” Heupel said.”Demetrius Mayes is suspended from all UCF football activities indefinitely. We are focused on ensuring that we provide compassion and support for everyone outside our program that has been affected by this.”

In the report Mayes told police he met the accuser at an off-campus party and took the woman back to his apartment. Mayes says the victim initially consented to sex and that when she told him “I can’t do this,” he stopped, let her get dressed and unlocked the door.

At least one of Mayes roommates, who is an unidentified UCF football player, told the authorities that they tried to warn him he was making a big mistake taking the woman into his bedroom. Apparently, that roommate and others were banging on Mayes bedroom door trying to break up what was going on.

They told UCF police that the accuser exited the bedroom crying and upset.

Mayes was a star at Miami’s Northwestern High School a year ago, where they won the 6A state championship, but he had not played in the first two UCF games against Uconn and South Carolina State.

The Knights did not play last weekend, because their game with North Carolina was canceled by Hurricane Florence.

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