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August 22, 2011

UCF Preseason Camp: 5 Things We Learned

Preseason camp is officially in the books as UCF goes to their regular practice schedule with the beginning of classes today. UCFSports.com takes a look at some of the storylines that developed during the two and half weeks of open practices.

Jeff Godfrey is becoming a more complete player at quarterback.

Scrambling for positive yards is one reason why Jeff Godfrey is such a scary player for opposing defenses, but last season sometimes Godfrey would take the six or seven yards and not see the wide receiver that became open 20 or 30 yards down the field.

Since the spring, Godfrey's decision-making and field vision has become a key emphasis and if the practices are any indication he's becoming much more in-tune to seeing potential big plays develop even when out of the pocket. He's shown an ability to accurately hit receivers even while on the run.

Freshmen will definitely see significant action at linebacker.

This was for the most part expected due to the departure of two starters and the talent UCF was bringing in, but now we know who's most likely to see significant playing time. Things can change between now and the first game, but it appears true freshman Leilon Willingham will start at one of the outside linebacker spots. Fellow freshman Terrance Plummer ended the open sessions playing on the second team, but he had spent quite a few days with the first unit. Troy Gray is another freshman who showed some ability during the preseason and could see action as well.

Blake Bortles is a solid backup to Jeff Godfrey.

One of the best performers of the preseason was redshirt freshman Blake Bortles who ended the open sessions with a standout scrimmage performance as he led the No. 2 offense down the field against the No. 1 defense. Possessing an accurate and strong arm, the former Oviedo star is much more proficient in the offense than he was a year ago and looks entirely capable of filling in for Jeff Godfrey if needed.

Unfortunately for UCF, the depth ends at the No. 2 spot. The Knights don't have a third scholarship quarterback and at the present time it's unclear who will lead the scout team.

J.J. Worton is a rising star at wide receiver.

Expect to hear the words, "Godfrey pass complete to J.J. Worton," quite a few times this season. Aside from No. 1 target Quincy McDuffie, Worton perhaps made the biggest splash this spring and preseason. He catches everything thrown in his direction and even more remarkable is the fact he's coming off a broken leg injury which occurred late in spring.

Expect Worton to be in UCF's top three receiver group with McDuffie and A.J. Guyton.

Running back is scary deep, even on the scout team.

UCF coach George O'Leary calls them 1A, 1B and 1C and he isn't kidding. The Knights have three legitimate running backs who can tote the rock in Ronnie Weaver, Brynn Harvey and Latavius Murray. Weaver surged in the latter half of the open practices to earn the No. 1 spot (for now) while Harvey (who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2009) continued to make strides coming off the knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season. And then there's Murray, who led the way late last year with C-USA Championship and Liberty Bowl MVP honors.

And the running back with the most potential is a scout team player. Storm Johnson, who must sit out this fall after transferring from Miami, showed off his impressive breakaway speed many times during the open practices. When he's eligible to play as a sophomore in 2012, Johnson has the tools to become quite a special player for the Knights.

***UCFSports.com offers the most comprehensive coverage of the Knights that you can't find anywhere else. Get breaking team and recruiting news, in-depth interviews and exclusive photos from practice and games. The football season is here - don't miss out!

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