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 firstname.lastname@example.org.