The strange and sordid journey of Central Florida’s Jeffrey Godfrey

Graham Watson
May 2, 2012

Six months ago, Central Florida quarterback Jeffrey Godfrey left the Knights on bad terms. On Wednesday, coach George O'Leary announced Godfrey was returning to the program - as a wide receiver.

Godfrey's two seasons at Central Florida were nothing short of dramatic. In 2010, he led the Knights to an 11-3 record, the best in school history, and was named Conference USA's Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American.

But the following August, Godfrey was implicated in a Yahoo! Sports report detailing dealings with Miami booster Nevin Shapiro. Shapiro claimed he provided Godfrey with extra benefits, including shoes, meals and a spot in Shapiro's luxury box at a Miami Hurricanes game in 2009.

O'Leary said he spoke to Godfrey about the allegations and O'Leary claimed he was "comfortable with the answers he gave me" and left it at that. But as the season progressed, it seemed as though the relationship between Godfrey and O'Leary was strained.

Godfrey slipped into a sophomore slump, UCF went 5-7 and Godfrey's father, Jeff Godfrey Sr., openly questioned the playcalling and the way UCF was using his son. Godfrey was asked to stay in the pocket instead of using his feet to make plays. Even though Godfrey started all 12 games for the Knights, he was replaced at times by pro-style freshman Blake Bortles, who helped the team to wins.

That was the beginning of the end of Godfrey's time with the Knights.

In December, Godfrey was granted his release. Jeff Godfrey Sr., cited diminished playing time as the reason for transferring while the university said Godfrey had been declared ineligible for the spring semester per university policy. Jeff Godfrey Sr., didn't give specifics on what caused his son to be ineligible, but noted Godfrey carried a 3.2 GPA.

The parting of ways wasn't exactly civil on Godfrey's end. Godfrey's mentor, Luther Campbell, called O'Leary a racist and the relationship between the two parties appeared fractured beyond repair.

Or not.

O'Leary is now allowing Godfrey to rejoin the team with a couple caveats: He has to complete some academic requirements and he has to move to wide receiver.

"I've met with him a couple of times and basically he has some things he has to take care of regarding school itself, some sanctions he has to deal with,'' O'Leary said. "If he does that I told him that, meeting with the coaching staff and myself the last time, that I would take him back.

"And he's coming back as a wide receiver in the program with the opportunity to help us out at quarterback in the Wild Knight package and other things using his athleticism.''

So just to recap: Godfrey, as a quarterback, led UCF to the best season in school history, was named Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American, but struggled when the school went away from what worked and tried to make Godfrey a pocket passer. Consequently, Godfrey had a strained relationship with the coaching staff, his father questioned the playcalling, his mentor called O'Leary a racist and now — six months later — everything is peachy keen and Godfrey is being asked to be a receiver and run the team's Wild Knight package.

OK then.

O'Leary said Godfrey, who was not enrolled during the spring semester, should have no problem getting back in school. Godfrey is expected to begin summer school May 14.

"I think he's a good kid, he's young and I always try to give kids opportunities,'' O'Leary said. "I think a lot of things were said that he should have corrected. He knew that and he admitted that and I think we move on and hopefully he takes the opportunity and makes the best of it."

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