With the 2017 season kicking off in under a week, UCF released its first official depth chart on Friday afternoon. The Knights have a mix of experienced returners and unproven freshmen to work with on both sides of the ball.
After an inconsistent 2016 campaign, the UCF offense returns some significant experience. The depth chart confirmed what coaches hinted at all camp, which is that sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton will get the first shot to lead the offense. Behind him are two freshman signal-callers in Noah Vedral and Darriel Mack. In the backfield, sophomore Jawon Hamilton returns after a 495-yard, four-touchdown freshman year. He is joined by fellow sophomore Adrian Killins, who flashed big-play ability all throughout last season.
At wide receiver, redshirt junior Tre’Quan Smith will continue to lead the way. Along with Smith, junior Cam Stewart and sophomore Dredrick Snelson return. The rest of the group is littered with promising freshmen such as Gabriel Davis, Marlon Williams, Emmanuel Logan-Greene and Otis Anderson. Along the offensive line, the Knights field some much-needed experience. Sophomore Jordan Johnson is transitioning to center, with senior Chavis Dickey and junior Tyler Hudanick at guard. Redshirt senior Aaron Evans and redshirt junior Wyatt Miller are holding down the tackle positions.
Defense was a strong suit for UCF in 2016, and coordinator Erik Chinander believes this year’s group can continue to build on that. There is significant experience up front, with seniors Jamiyus Pittman and Tony Guerad on the ends and sophomore Trysten Hill in the middle. Redshirt senior Shaquem Griffin, the reigning AAC defensive player of the year, is back at linebacker. He is joined by junior Titus Davis, redshirt senior Chequan Burkett and junior Pat Jasinski. This year, the Knights have to replace an entire secondary. They will initially try to do that with a mix of youth and experience. At cornerback, UCF will field senior Chris Johnson and freshman Brandon Moore. Redshirt juniors Kyle Gibson and Tre Neal are leading the way at safety.
On special teams, things are staying mostly the same. Junior Matthew Wright returns as the team’s kicker, while the kick return job still belongs to Killins. He will have some company in the form of freshman Otis Anderson, while Johnson still holds the punt return slot.
UCF kicks off its 2017 season Thursday, Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. against FIU.