July 2012 Archives
Incoming UCF junior transfer Deshorn Brown picked up a big honor Tuesday when he was named to the 2012 PDL All-League Team. The forward, who will begin his career with the Knights in August, was one of 11 players from the league's 73 teams to be honored.
Playing for Reading United in Pennsylvania, Brown scored 13 goals in 13 matches.
A native of Jamaica, Brown was a two-time NAIA All-America First Team selection at the University of Mobile. In 2011, he led all NAIA players with 32 goals.
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF football reports Tuesday, July 31, just one day before the Knights hold their first official practice of the 2012 preseason. Check below for some of the latest updates on the Black and Gold.
-The annual Countdown to Kickoff Luncheon has a few spots remaining for this year's event, which will take place Thursday, Aug. 16, at the UCF Arena. Registration gets underway at 11 a.m.
-For official Knights wallpaper, make sure to visit UCF Athletics on Facebook.
-Assistant head coach Brent Key is scheduled to be on AlumKnight Live on 740 AM Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
-Central Florida Future - UCF Set to Open Practice
-Miami Herald - FIU Rewards Cristobal with Contract Extension
-Chattanooga Times Free Press - Fisher Back to Bolster Missouri
Stat of the Day
-UCF has ranked in the top 21 in the country every year since 2007 in kickoff returns, including first in 2010 and third in 2011.
What to Look For
-The Knights will finally hit the field Wednesday from 3:15-5:30 p.m., and all practices from Aug. 1-18 are open to the public (photography, video and note taking is not permitted).
-UCF Football FanFest will take place Saturday, Aug. 18. More details will be announced soon
During his time as an assistant coach from 2000-10 with the Knights, Craig Brown seemingly always had a smile. Brown, who starred on the collegiate level at Florida in the 1990s before playing professionally for several years, loves the game of basketball, and clearly loved working at UCF.
For those reasons alone, Brown, who was recently hired as the Knights' director of operations, is a welcome addition to the UCF staff. In his new role, Brown will manage the program's day-to-day operations. After finishing his first stint at UCF, he remained close to the game, handling color commentary duties on broadcasts on the Gator Radio Network and ESPN3, and even worked some UCF contests for Bright House Networks last year.
It will be nice to have Brown back in the basketball offices, helping UCF's student-athletes and coaching staff reach their full potential each day.
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - News and notes from the UCF football team for Monday, July 30. There are only two days remaining before the Knights get on the field for practice No. 1.
-College Sports Madness has released its 2012 C-USA Preseason All-Conference Team, and UCF received a ton of praise. George O'Leary was selected as the Coach of the Year, while Breshad Perriman was named the Freshman of the Year.
-Also earning honors from College Sports Madness: OL Theo Goins (First Team), OL Phil Smith (First Team), KR Rannell Hall (First Team), DL Troy Davis (First Team), DB Kemal Ishmael (First Team), DL Victor Gray (Second Team), LB Jonathan Davis (Second Team), RB Storm Johnson (Third Team), OL Jordan Rae (Third Team) and DB A.J. Bouye (Third Team).
-Hattiesburg American - C-USA Breakdown
-Wilmington Star News - East Carolina's Defense
-Theozone.net - Ohio State - Meyer Hopes Buckeyes Are Angry
Stat of the Day
-UCF has a combined 83 rushing touchdowns in the last three seasons for an average of 27.7 per year.
What to Look For
-Tuesday marks the first official day of preseason camp as the Knights will report to the Wayne Densch Sports Center for dorm check-in, a team meal and meetings.
-UCF will finally hit the field Wednesday from 3:15-5:30 p.m., and all practices from Aug. 1-18 are open to the public (photography, video and note taking is not permitted).
Looking for insight into the UCF men's basketball program? Then you should be following head coach Donnie Jones (@DonnieJonesUCF) on Twitter.
Jones has dabbled in Twitter in the past, but now has a consistent social media presence. Throughout this offseason, the coach has heard from fans, alums and students who have requested more information on the Knights directly from Jones. And in today's age, there is no better way to share than via Twitter.
During non-conference play, a pair of teams who competed in the NCAA Championship in 2011 will visit the UCF Soccer Complex. The Knights will host Old Dominion on Sept. 1 and also welcome Charlotte, the national runner-up, on Sept. 26. In this video, UCF head coach Bryan Cunningham talks about hosting high-caliber opponents.
By Todd Dagenais - 7/24/12 - Blog Entry No. 3
Watch Team USA take on the Dominican Republic HERE. The match is set for 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
Yesterday we finished the training phase of the USA High Performance experience and today we started to competition phase against a very talented Canadian Junior National team this morning. It was a really exciting match during the first two sets as we were able to win both 25-22 and 25-23. I opted to play some of the reserve players in the third set and we lost 25-11. It's a bummer because the reserves played well enough for us to win the third set, but the remaining starters on the floor collectively had a poor set. We went with the starting lineup in the fourth set and closed out the match to win 3-1.
Tonight we have the opening ceremony (I know...it seems kind of odd), and a wonderful buffet dinner is planned. We will play the Dominican Republic tomorrow in a match that could very well determine our overall finish in our pool of six teams. They are clearly the best team in the pool, but we have a shot at taking them if we can keep our errors down and convert some serves into points. For those that read the earlier blog...YES it's the same coaches and players as last year. Ding, ding...round two begins at 12:30 tomorrow!!!
We have moved into the Quality Inn for the rest of the experience. After 105 degree weather and no air conditioning, the Quality Inn seems like the Bellagio for us!
Michelle Chatman is also here coaching the USA Select National Team. These are the top Freshman and young Sophomores in the entire country. She is doing a fantastic job with them, and they also won their opening match.
UPDATE: We just beat the Dominicans in an epic five-game match. We are now 2-0 in our six-team pool and in firm control of our destiny. We will have a quick turnaround to play a 7:30 match against Iowa's JNT program. Being 2-0 allows us to get some other talented players on our roster some additional play time through the next three matches.
If you watched online it was another pretty heated battle this time around, but none of the fireworks that we had last year between the benches and under the net. The Dominican coach actually came up and gave me a hug after the match. Even through the intense rivalry, there is a great deal of respect as well. He promised that he would get me next time. I told him "don't bet on it" ...we shared a quick laugh.
Going back to his high school days in New York, Latavius Murray has a pretty nice selection of awards. The running back was the 2007 Gatorade Football Player of the Year in the state of New York and the Class D Player of the Year out of Onondaga Central High School. While at UCF, he was the 2010 Conference USA Championship Game MVP, the 2010 AutoZone Liberty Bowl MVP and the 2011 team MVP.
But none of that matters right now.
As Murray gets set to represent the Knights at the 2012 C-USA Media Day in Dallas, he wants to experience another season similar to that 2010 campaign. One in which UCF won a program-record 11 games and recorded its first bowl victory by topping Georgia. Those team achievements are far more important to Murray than anything else.
"The best feeling is going out, playing for a conference championship, winning the title game and going to a bowl game," Murray said. "That is our goal. It's what our season is all about."
The 6-foot-3, 222-pound senior will have a busy itinerary at this year's media day as players will head to dinner at Hard 8 Barbecue Tuesday evening. Murray will then travel to FOX Sports Southwest Studios for television interviews Wednesday morning before meeting with print media at the DFW Marriott Hotel in the afternoon.
"It's an honor to represent UCF for C-USA Media Day. This is definitely something I'm looking forward to," Murray said. "It's going to be exciting to meet some of the coaches and players I've competed against as well."
ConferenceUSA.com will present free, live video streaming of interviews with coaches and players on Wednesday. East Division coaches and players will be on the stream from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET and West Division coaches and players will be on from 2-3 p.m. ET. These interviews will also be archived on the conference website.
Conference USA's social media platforms will provide live updates throughout the day. Quotes, notes and photos will be posted via Twitter (@ConferenceUSA1 or #CUSAFB) and on the Conference USA Facebook page. Also follow the Knights on Twitter at @UCF_Football.
UCF football season tickets are currently available for as low as $140, while single-game tickets and flex plans are also on sale. For more information and to place an order, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com. Attending a UCF football game is a great way to celebrate birthdays, corporate outings or any special occasion. Please ask about group packages today.
On Sunday, Jermaine Taylor proved that when he receives ample playing time, he can still score in bunches. The former UCF star concluded the Las Vegas Summer League in fine fashion, totaling a game-high 21 points for Chicago in its loss to Milwaukee. The shooting guard started for the Bulls and shot 9-of-18 from the floor in 30 minutes of action.
Taylor logged time in four games in Las Vegas, but the bulk of his minutes came against the Bucks. Taylor, who is looking to latch on with an NBA team, still has the scoring ability that helped him earn All-America honors as a senior in 2008-09 when he averaged 26.2 points, good for third in the nation.
He also still has incredible athleticism, which he showed off Saturday with a vicious dunk over Mickey McConnell of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Hopefully his performance Sunday showed NBA executives that when he gets on the floor, Taylor can still put the ball in the basket.
The weather is starting to get a bit more tolerable here in Des Moines. Today it will be in the mid 90's, which is far better than the mid 100's we have been experiencing. Fortunately, we are about to move into the competition hotel after tomorrow's practice. It's a fair guess we will have air conditioning from here on out. I probably just jinxed the whole thing!
We have spent the last two days training twice per day. One practice was more focused on training technical skill and the second practice was more focused on competitive drills and scrimmaging, so we can start to rank the players. There are 22 players on the USA Junior National A-2 team. Last night we broke them up into two competition teams of 11 based on their three days of statistics and performance. The top players in each position were placed on the Red team, which will be the #5 seeded team overall of the 18 teams in the Women's Junior International Division.
From there, we gave the next-highest-rated players the option of being placed on the top team as a back-up or being placed on the White team (2nd team and #9 overall seed with the opportunity for more playing time). Many of the players in this situation opted for the 2nd team where they will get more playing time. In the past, very few players selected this option, but it definitely seems like today's players are more interested in playing time than just "being on the top team". I find that quite fascinating.
Today, I had the Red team scrimmage against our USA Junior National team. This team consists of the top 20 players from around the United States in the 19 and under age group. Needless to say, there are more than a few future Olympians on that team. It was a great experience for our players to see exactly who they have to beat out if they want to be on the JNT in 2013 and play in the World Championships next year. This afternoon, we will scrimmage the JNT again, then tomorrow morning we will scrimmage Chile. From there we will shut down training and get some rest heading into the High Performance Championships tournament.
The competition pools came out last night and we are scheduled to play the Iowa Region, the Badger Region, the Lone Star Region, the Dominican Republic Junior National Team and the Canadian Junior National Team. My team played the Dominicans last year in a really heated match that got a bit feisty on more than one occasion. It will be interesting to see if it's the same players and coaching staff this year. Might be some fireworks this time around J
You can follow the progress of the tournament which starts Tuesday. Our first match is at 2:15 p.m. Central Time. Click here for a link to all of the results. There is a possibility that some of our matches may be broadcast over the internet. I will be sure to let you know if that happens.USA!!!!!!!!
If you ever want to be entertained for a half an hour, go talk to UCF women's basketball assistant coach Khalilah Mitchell. She's the best at telling stories, and she has a boat load of them.
On Wednesday, UCFAthletics.com will have a detailed feature on Mitchell's growth with the Knights as she heads into her fourth year with the program and her first as an assistant coach. Here are some anecdotes that didn't make the cut for the story to tide you over until it is released.
Coach Mitchell is from New Orleans and was attending LSU when Hurricane Katrina hit. This is what she had to say about the experience:
"My mom and my family came to Baton Rouge maybe like a week before. People always ask, 'Why didn't people leave?' The thing is, we had hurricane scare after hurricane scare. You never think it's going to hit. In Baton Rouge, the population doubled over night. We ran out of gas, out of food. Our practice facility, we called it the Dungeon, became a morgue. The track became a helicopter landing pad to bring people here. It was really hectic. We had eight feet of water at my mom's house back in New Orleans.
Coach Mitchell is one of two players in NCAA history (men or women) to be a part of five NCAA Final Fours. That's a lot of rings. Where are they all?
"I have the majority of them. Some of them Hurricane Katrina took and I was unable to get those back. The majority of them, my parents have them because I'm not a clutter person and I hate stuff that I don't use at the time. I told them to keep all my stuff until I get a house, and then I'll get all my LSU stuff. Whenever I get a house, I'll have my own little LSU room."
As a junior and senior in high school, coach Mitchell worked on her quickness every day before school. She didn't own a jump rope, so she had to be resourceful:
"I would take an extension cord we had, unplug it -- it was such a process -- in the morning and wrap it around my hands because it was so long. It was like a phone jack. That's all we had. I'd jump rope every day for like 15-20 minutes before I had to catch my two busses to school."
The photo frame above is a present from the Knights after Mitchell accepted her coaching position with UCF. She has it in her office.
"The girls, I think, were happier for me than anyone because they know how hard I work and they know how bad I wanted. They would say throughout the year: Just don't leave until we graduate. And every class says it. When I was just out on the road recruiting, it was the cutest thing -- some of them would text me or call me, when are you coming back? Are you getting some players? That's when you know that you've done a good job."
The start of the 2012 UCF volleyball season is five weeks away, and what better time to look back at some of the defining moments from the 2011 season.
The Knights had plenty to celebrate in their record-breaking campaign that saw them win 20 matches for the first time since 2003 and notch a program-best 12 wins in Conference USA. Over the next three weeks, we will continue counting down the top-five moments from the 2011 season leading up to the Knights' 2012 opener against Creighton in the USF Invitational on Aug. 24.
Setting the Stage
Heading into the weekend of Oct. 28, the Knights were at a cross roads in their season. Sitting at 5-6 in Conference USA and hosting Houston and Rice, UCF was in need of a weekend sweep to keep its season goals intact and raise its RPI against quality opponents.
With the Cougars arriving in Orlando for the first match, the Knights were looking to do something no other squad had previously done in school history: knock off Houston. UCF entered Sunday's match against Rice with a bit of history at stake again as it looked for its first season sweep of the Owls in program history.
UCF set the tone early in its Friday-night match with the Cougars, throttling the visitors, 25-11, in the first stanza. Evija Vilde blasted six of her game-high 18 kills to lead the Knights to a .443 attack percentage in the frame.
Houston fought back and won the second and third frames to take a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth. The Knights didn't back down as Vilde added six more kills, and freshman DeLaina Sarden and senior Rachel Vukson added five block assists to claim the set, 25-15.
In the fifth and deciding frame, the Knights never stepped off the gas to take the set, 15-5, and seal its first victory against Houston. The evening truly belonged to Vilde who connected on three-straight kills to open the frame, and as a team, the Black and Gold were successful on 8-of-9 attacks (.778) in the stanza.
After the victory over Houston, the Knights turned their focus immediately to the Owls for a Sunday afternoon match inside the raucous Venue. There would be no fifth set needed as UCF rebounded from a rare first-set loss to sweep the rest of the match in what was truly a team effort with each member of the squad chipping in.
Once the dust had settled, the Knights registered their first weekend sweep of the Houston schools, victories over teams with RPIs of 38 (UH) and 56 (Rice), a season sweep of Rice for the first time and 10 home victories for the first time since 2003.
"What a historic weekend for our volleyball program and all the effort that these players put into it, and also the alumni who laid the foundation for us to be able to come out and knock off two top-60 teams," head coach Todd Dagenais said after historic weekend sweep.
"Rice and Houston-- there is no doubt about it that they are two teams that we haven't had a lot of success against," Dagenais added. "To be able to sweep the weekend is big for us. We still hold out the dream that we will be on the board come Selection Sunday. We had to win two this weekend to be able to do it and I am really proud of the effort of the entire team."
A year ago, the NBA was unable to hold its summer leagues in Orlando and Las Vegas due to its lockout. The absence of the summer leagues hurt the development of first-year players last year, but also was detrimental to veterans looking to secure a spot with a team.
Jermaine Taylor was one of those veterans. In 2010-11, his second campaign in the NBA, the former UCF star played in 32 total contests with Houston and Sacramento. He appeared in 26 games with the Kings, averaging 7.1 points in 15.6 minutes an outing. Despite showing off his ability to score, Taylor was cut from the Kings after the team acquired another offensive-minded shooting guard in Marcus Thornton.
Players like Taylor could have utilized the summer leagues to showcase their talents, not only to the teams that they were competing with, but to other organizations as well. Due to the lockout, that was not possible.
Once the lockout concluded, Taylor, who was coming back from an injury, was not able to quickly catch on with an NBA team. He ended the season in the NBA D-League, averaging 14.2 points in 26.3 minutes per contest with Rio Grande Valley.
On Tuesday evening, Taylor will suit up for the Chicago Bulls in Las Vegas. He will be one of 12 players on the Bulls' summer league squad. The group includes a few wings, most notably second-year Bull Jimmy Butler, but Taylor appears to have a good shot to earn a decent amount of playing time as Chicago is scheduled to play five games. Hopefully Taylor will be able to take advantage of the opportunity, one that did not exist for him last summer.
When the Knights face host California on Sept. 7, UCF fans will be able to follow the action from the West Coast. The match is scheduled to air nationally on the new Pac-12 Network, which is scheduled to make its debut in August.
The start of the 2012 UCF volleyball season is six weeks away, and what better time to look back at some of the defining moments from the 2011 season.
The Knights had plenty to celebrate in their record-breaking campaign that saw them win 20 matches for the first time since 2003 and notch a program-best 12 wins in Conference USA. Over the next four weeks, we will continue counting down the top-five moments from the 2011 season leading up to the Knights' 2012 opener against Creighton in the USF Invitational on Aug. 24.
Setting the Stage
Looking for their first home win against Marshall since 2008, the Knights were in for another battle with the Thundering Herd on a truly unique night: 11-11-11. The stakes were also much higher with a potential NCAA berth on the line late in the season. UCF came into the match with a 16-10 record and was 8-7 in Conference USA play.
Aside from the possibility of securing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, a 17th victory would also ensure the Knights of their best record since 2003 and avenge an early season loss in Huntington, W. Va., at the hands of the Thundering Herd.
As they were accustomed to doing at home all year, the Knights raced out to an early lead, claiming the first set, 27-25, and the second, 25-21. Evija Vilde and sophomore Angelica Crump both posted six kills in the first frame to aid the squad to a .576 attack percentage.
UCF only allowed Marshall to connect on .190 percent of its attacks in the second set. Rachel Vukson had a strong all-around effort frame with 13 assists, four digs, and two block assists. For the second time in two matches, the Knights set their season-high in blocks, recording 18 in the contest.
The Herd wouldn't go away easily, storming back to claim the third set, 25-20, and the fourth stanza, 25-21. In the fourth, Marshall was able to rally from a 21-18 deficit with seven-consecutive points to send the match to a fifth set.
In the deciding fifth stanza, the Knights jumped out to 8-3 and 12-8 advantages before having their lead cut all the way down to 14-12. Crump's team-high 23rd and final kill was the deciding point in the contest. The All-C-USA First Teamer was joined by Vilde (16) and rookie DeLaina Sarden (19) in the double-digit kill column and Vukson ended the night with an astounding 62 of the team's 64 assists.
"This was another one of these epic battles between UCF and Marshall," head coach Todd Dagenais said after the victory. "It has been this way since I've been here and will probably always be this way. We prepared to go five games. I was really excited about our ability to compose ourselves after dropping two straight sets. The last time we played at Marshall we lost 3-0, but two of the games were decided by two points. Every time we play Marshall it's close. They are extremely well coached."
ORLANDO - The start of preseason drills is less than three weeks away, so football season at UCF is right around the corner. And for many here in the football-crazed Sunshine State, that moment can't get here soon enough.
From now until drills begin in August, we at UCFAthletics.com will be highlighting a UCF player to watch for the coming season and the expectations for that player.
The Knights open the season Aug. 30 at Akron. A week later the Knights travel to Columbus, Ohio to face Ohio State and new coach Urban Meyer. The home-opener at Bright House Networks Stadium is Sept. 15 against FIU. And the Knights will close the nonconference portion of the schedule on Sept. 29 with a marquee home game against Missouri.
UCF football season tickets are currently available for as low as $140, while away game tickets are also on sale. For more information and to place an order, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) 823-1000 or visit UCFAthletics.com.
Here is a closer look at one of the key Knights expected to make a big impact this season:
NAME: Rannell Hall
POSITION: Wide receiver
NUMBER: Will switch to No. 6 in the fall
HEIGHT, WEIGHT, CLASS: 6-2, 191, sophomore
2011 STATS: Hall, appropriately nicknamed ``Speedy,'' finished last season ranked fifth in the country in kickoff returns with a 31.0-yard average. Despite returning kicks just half the season, Hall was named to the first team All-Conference USA squad - the only freshman in the conference to be named to either the first or second teams. He was the first UCF freshman to make the All-C-USA team since Joe Burnett in 2005.
BEST MOMENT: He had a spectacular 72-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter against East Carolina that set up a go-ahead touchdown for UCF. Hall also had a dazzling 57-yard return against UAB.
WHAT LIES AHEAD: Already one of the nation's best kick returners, Hall hopes to makes his mark on the UCF receiving corps this season. He is one of the fastest players on the team and the hope that his ability to separate from defenders will give the Knights a serious deep threat on the outside. Hall spent time during spring drills running with the first-string offense and he showed flashes of brilliance, but also lapses in concentration on routine catches. As for returning kicks, the Knights ranked 104th in the country midway through last season before Hall took over the kick-return duties. His stellar return work eventually vaulted the Knights up the national rankings. The duo of Hall and Quincy McDuffie should make it impossible for teams to kick away from a UCF speedster. And with another stellar season as a returner Hall could push for national All-American honors.
John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. Email John at email@example.com.
The start of the 2012 UCF volleyball season is less than two months away, and what better time to look back at some of the defining moments from the 2011 season.
The Knights had plenty to celebrate in their record-breaking campaign that saw them win 20 matches for the first time since 2003 and notch a program-best 12 wins in Conference USA. Over the next five weeks, we will be counting down the top-five moments from the 2011 season leading up to the Knights' 2012 opener against Creighton in the USF Invitational on Aug. 24.
Setting the Stage
On the heels of five-consecutive wins in the early portion of its non-conference schedule, UCF took to the floor for its second match of the day in the Residence Inn/UCF Invitational. It was not your ordinary contest as the Knights were hosting BIG EAST foe Pittsburgh in Volleybowl IV.
A rowdy crowd of 891 fans packed The Venue and made for a tough environment for the Panthers. Just after 7 p.m., the Knights began their quest to even up their all-time record in Volleybowls at 2-2 in the first matchup all-time with Pitt.
The Knights came out firing in the first set behind outside hitters Angelica Crump and Kayla Keller. The duo combined to hit better than .500 with 10 total kills, and finished the night with 13 and nine, respectively. UCF's stifling defense limited Pitt to a .079 attack percentage in the first frame.
The rowdy fans inside The Venue helped the Knights close out the second set after the Panthers came within three points of the home team. Two late errors by Pitt gave UCF the second frame as the squad swatted .342 and landed 18 kills.
UCF closed out the Panthers in the third set by holding them to only 13 points and a .029 hitting percentage. Junior Evija Vilde tallied five kills in the frame and finished the night with 11.
After the damage had been done, the squad nearly hit .300 (.297), totaled 41 kills on 39 assists and out dug Pitt, 53-36, in the sweep. Much of the Knights' success in the match came off of the serve as the team totaled seven service aces and had four players with service runs of four points or more.
Since head coach Todd Dagenais took over the program in 2008, he has always brought in a formidable opponent for Volleybowl. The much-anticipated matchups draw in plenty of fans, including droves of students, which Dagenais hopes will spark continued attendance and support.
"We do these Volleybowls to expose more people to volleyball and hopefully these people will come back and say `Hey you know what? That was kind of cool,'" said Dagenais. "We are trying to get some of these students exposed to the game so that we can build up this student section. Those who have never been to a match are missing out because it is where the action is."
By: Joey Nelson, UCFAthletics.com Student Assistant
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The Knights will hit the road for a Conference USA bout against Marshall on Oct. 27 in a crucial contest for the East Division crown. UCF claimed a 16-6 victory in last season's matchup, holding the Marshall offense to just one first down in the first half while senior tailback Brynn Harvey rushed for 180 yards on 30 carries in a torrential downpour. UCF has won seven-straight games in the series.
Doc Holliday enters his third season as head coach and continues to churn out positive results for the football program. Marshall finished off its 7-6 season on a high note, defeating FIU, 20-10, in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Marshall returns seven starters on offense and only five on the defensive side of the football. While Holliday's recruiting class ranked second in Conference USA, the Herd will look to revamp an offense that ranked No. 102 in total offense and overhaul a defensive unit that ranked No. 96 in passing defense, No. 58 in rushing defense and No. 74 in scoring defense.
Offensive Player To Watch
At 6-foot-1, 170 lbs., sophomore quarterback Rakeem Cato is set to man the Marshall offense. Cato completed 182 passes for 2,055 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. Even though Cato managed a 125.8 passer rating, he threw 11 interceptions and was dropped in the backfield for 22 sacks. Coaches have been impressed with Cato's growth this offseason, praising his development on and off the field. If the Herd's lead guy can avoid turnovers and produce progressive drives, the Marshall offense should find some success in keeping the ball out of the Knights' hands
Defensive Player To Watch
With question marks on the defensive side of the ball, the Thundering Herd is looking to maintain some consistency. Marshall lost its top defender, Vinny Curry, to the NFL Draft and have other holes to fill at the linebacker position as well as the safety and corner spots. Look for coaches to mix things up at linebacker, with guys like Jermaine Holmes, T.J. Ross and Armonze Daniel leading the charge. If UCF's offensive linemen can make easy work of the Marshall defense, the run game could have a big day. Marshall's secondary will feature plenty of young players alongside second-year defensive back Keith Baxter, including four-star signee Amos Legget and three-star recruit Andre Scott. Experience should play in favor for the Knights at the wideout position, led by senior Quincy McDuffie and sophomores J.J. Worton and Josh Reese.
Knight vs. Thundering Herd Matchup To Look Out For
Freshman wide receiver Breshad Perriman made quite an impression on head coach George O'Leary this past spring and is making a strong push for an expanded role in the Knights' offense. "For a true freshman, I'm really impressed with him. I think he's done a lot of really good things out here for a good-sized receiver," said Coach O'Leary to the Orlando Sentinel. "He's going to help us next year, there's no question." Perriman is a physical force at 6-foot-4 and isn't afraid of contact. It'll be interesting to see how the Marshall secondary will combat against Perriman and the Knights' wide receivers when they face each other this upcoming season.
College baseball is a full-time gig. Just ask the 17 Knights who are on the road across the nation improving their game in a multitude of collegiate summer leagues.
After the season ended June 4, there was no rest for those Knights participating in summer leagues as they headed off to their destinations shortly after returning from Coral Gables. In case you missed the story on where the Knights are this summer, no worries, just follow the link: Heading out for Summer Ball
Several Knights have made quite the impression in their respective summer leagues, including rising senior Jeramy Matos and sophomores Harrison Hukari and James Vasquez who earned player of the week awards.
Matos tore the cover off the ball for the Mystic Schooners in late June and was named New England Collegiate Baseball League Player of the Week June 23. The third basemen hit .412 during the seven-day stretch, smashing five homers and driving in eight runs. Matos closed the week on a four-game hitting streak, including homers in three of those contests. He currently leads his squad with six bombs and 12 RBI in 16 games.
Hukari, a 6-foot-6 LHP, nabbed Florida Collegiate Summer League Player of the Week honors earlier this month after he pitched five scoreless frames up the road from campus for the Sanford River Rats. He surrendered just two hits and fanned five batters.
Perhaps the hottest player during the dog days of summer has been OF/1B James Vasquez. With one year of collegiate ball under his belt, Vasquez has made a name for himself in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League with the Herndon Braves.
On June 27, the sweet-swinging lefty earned player of the week honors after he hit in all six of his team's games that week and collected multiple hits in five of them, including a five-hit effort against the DC Grays on June 23. Vasquez started the week amidst a streak of homering in four straight games, an (unverified) League record. He finished the week with three home runs, three doubles and 15 total hits in 24 at-bats (.625).
Into the Numbers
To follow the Knights more closely as they play away from home, stats from each team have been attached.
Mystic Schooners Stats (Jeramy Matos, Spencer Haynes)
Waynesboro Generals Stats (Austin Johnston, JoMarcos Woods, Ryan Breen, Gregg Cooke)
Luray Wranglers Stats (Nick Carrillo)
Mat-Su Miners Stats (Chris Taladay, Jimmy Reed)
Harwich Mariners Stats (Garrett Nuss, Eric Skoglund)
Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox Stats (Ben Lively)
Bourne Braves Stats (Chris Matulis)
Sanford River Rats Stats (Harrison Hukari, Tommy Williams)
Youse's Orioles Stats (Erik Barber)
Herndon Braves Stats (James Vasquez)
Martinsville Mustangs Stats (Dale Irving)