Ten University of Central Florida football players will not take the field during the 2020 season due to concerns of coronavirus.
During his announcement of the decision Tuesday, head coach Josh Heupel said that UCF supports each player’s decision regarding the virus. Although the players opting out will be away from the program, they will continue to receive its support.
Heupel added that UCF players are supportive of their teammates’ decisions not to play.
Change in the Lineup
ESPN reported that cornerback Tay Gowan and defensive tackle Kalia Davis are among those opting out. Gowan and Davis each started nine games for the Knights in 2019. In his first year with UCF after transferring from a junior college, Gowan recorded 31 tackles and and two interceptions. Davis’s eight tackles for loss and three sacks ranked second on the team.
Backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. also won’t play this season due to COVID-19 concerns. He started three games in 2018 and was projected to be the team’s starter in 2019 before being sidelined due to injury. His decision pushes Quadry Jones into the role as backup.
The seven other players who have decided not to play are reserve offensive and defensive linemen, according to the ESPN article.
UCF’s Season Outlook
The opt outs leave UCF without two key members of their defense. However, Brandon Moore should be able to carry the cornerback position. He missed the 2019 season after tearing his ACL, but the Orlando Sentinel reports that prior to the injury he started 20 of the 25 games he appeared in. The 11 passes he defended in 2018 were enough to earn him an honorable mention on the 2018 All-American Athletic Conference list.
Offensively, Quadry Jones is a redshirt sophomore who played in three games for the Knights in 2019. He went three for three with passing attempts, including one touchdown. He finished the season with 78 yards passing and a 428.40 passing efficiency rating, according to UCF’s website.
The Knights, who were recently named the American Athletic Conference preseason favorite, are ranked No. 21 in the AP poll. They open the season on September 19th against Georgia Tech.