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Central Florida has been hit hard by opt-outs.
UCF head coach Josh Heupel told reporters Tuesday that 10 of his players have decided not to play in 2020, including a few projected starters on defense and the backup quarterback. Per the Orlando Sentinel, Heupel said the opt-outs were due to concerns about COVID-19.
The losses of Kalia Davis and Tay Gowan are probably the biggest hits for the Knights in 2020.
Davis would have had a significant role on the interior of the defensive line after playing in 13 games with nine starts in 2019. He tallied 27 tackles, eight tackles for loss and three sacks on the year. Gowan, a junior college transfer, was in line to return as a starter at cornerback after making nine starts a year ago. In 12 total games played, Gowan compiled 31 tackles, eight pass breakups and two interceptions.
Of the other names on the list, Darriel Mack Jr. is the most well-known to college football fans. He stepped in as UCF’s starting quarterback in 2018 after McKenzie Milton suffered a devastating leg injury that still has him sidelined. In 2019, though, Mack lost the battle for the starting quarterback job to freshman Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel threw for 3,653 yards and 29 touchdowns and is back as the starter as a sophomore. Without Mack, Quadry Jones moved up to No. 2 on the QB depth chart.
Devunte Dawson, another junior college transfer, was set for a depth role in the secondary while Mason Chowela would have been in the rotation at defensive tackle. Lamarius Benson and Adrian Medley were likely both set to be backups on the offensive line.
Elijah Benoit was a special teams contributor in 2019, while Kendrick Wilson and Allan Adams were both deep reserves.
UCF, ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press preseason Top 25, is set to open its season on the road against Georgia Tech on Sept. 19.
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