Colubiale expecting big things on offense

Brandon Helwig, Publisher
UCF Sports

Look up and down UCF's roster and the tight end position may be the deepest on the team.

A trio of players - Jordan Franks, Jordan Akins and Michael Colubiale - all could make a case for being No. 1 at the position.

Colubiale, a fifth-year senior, believes you'll see the tight ends become an integral part of the offense this year. The biggest difference? He feels the blocking aspect has caught up to a group that spent their first college years as wide receivers.

"That's the thing last year, we were still kind of like receivers playing on the line of scrimmage and we weren't good blockers technically," Colubiale said. "We all can catch the ball and run routes and everything. Coach (Sean) Beckton and Coach (Scott) Frost challenged us to be better blockers. We've been really keying on that. We've been working with the offensive line a lot, hitting the sled out there during the individual period. I think that's helping a lot. We're getting the edge on runs and opening up some holes for the running backs. That's one of the big things that's improved for the offense.

"We're a mismatch in the secondary on linebackers and safeties. I think we can be a huge threat in the offense this year."

Colubiale feels last Wednesday's scrimmage, perhaps the best performance of the spring for the offense, represents a sign of things to come.

"Coach Frost challenged us after Monday to come out during the scrimmage and compete with the defense," Colubiale said. "On Monday they got after us, defensive wise. So the offense (on Wednesday) turned it up a notch. We were really aggressive on the offensive line. We were striking out blocks, making the reads and McKenzie (Milton) was getting us the ball.

"The whole offense, we clicked on all cylinders. Tre'Quan (Smith) made some good plays obviously. He's a good playmaker. (Dredrick) Snelson. Tristan Reaves actually had a really good day at receiver. The running backs ran hard. Quarterbacks got us the ball. McKenzie, Pete (DiNovo), (Sean) Pratt, all them."

Milton has showed remarkable improvement.

"I think he's matured a lot, honestly," Colubiale said. "He's become more of a leader that a quarterback needs to be. He's calmed down in the pocket. Last year he was kind of thrown in there, like everyone knows. He's really matured a lot. He's making his reads and getting the ball where it needs to go. He's really playing some good football right now."

Colubiale, a former star at Spruce Creek High School near Daytona Beach, joined the program in 2013 as a walk-on. Last week, he learned he would have a scholarship for his final season of college football.

"It was pretty exciting," Colubiale said. "I really appreciate Coach Frost for doing that. It was kind of a surprise. In the team meeting he surprised me with it when everyone was in there. It was really cool, seeing everybody go crazy and being happy for me. My parents were really happy."

UCF won back-to-back conference championships in Colubiale's first two seasons of 2013 and 2014. He saw the turnaround in 2016 from the winless season that came before it. In his eyes, the Knights can get back to the top of the conference.

"I've been through it all, the highs and the lows," Colubiale said. "Just finish out on top, like I came in, as conference champions. That's our main goal to win the conference. If we go out on top, that's a successful season for me.

"Our defense last year was good enough as anyone in the conference to compete. The offense needs to step it up. I think this spring, as of today, we looked like we could have one of the best offenses in the conference. We're clicking. I think if we continue to grow in the offseason and summer workouts, get the reads down, and McKenzie gets the ball where it needs to go, then I think we'll be really successful."

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