UCF makes secondary swap
Redshirt junior Brandon Alexander switches from corner to safety to stabilize defensive backfield
Published: Saturday, August 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, August 18, 2013 16:08
If there’s anything that UCF Knights head coach George O’Leary prides his team on, it’s defense.
Though much of the attention heading into this season has been on the high-powered offense, which O’Leary called the “most explosive” since he took over as head coach nearly a decade ago, it features many familiar faces — including running back Storm Johnson, quarterback Blake Bortles and a receiving corps that’s as talented at the top as it is at the bottom.
Coming into the 2013 season, there are question marks surrounding the defense — especially at defensive back and linebacker.
In recent years, UCF has been represented in the NFL by defensive backs Josh Robinson (Minnesota Vikings), Kemal Ishmael (Atlanta Falcons) and A.J. Bouye (Houston Texans).
This season, the Knights are looking for the next batch of players to step up and take charge.
Brandon Alexander has made a full transition from cornerback to safety, pairing him with returning starter Clayton Geathers. Linebacker Troy Gray said Alexander is “thriving in that position.”
Geathers, who was second on the team last season with 117 tackles, has also taken note of the early contributions from redshirt freshman Jacoby Glenn and true freshman Shaquill Griffin.
Glenn spent a lot of time in practice lined up at corner with the first-team defense.
“I feel like a lot of players are going to help us this year,” Geathers said. “We just got to get that chemistry together and we’ll be fine.”
At the other corner spot, redshirt junior Sean Beckton was seeing time, along with redshirt junior Jordan Ozerities — both of whom could see significant playing time in 2013.
In Saturday’s scrimmage, Ozerities was playing with the first defense and likely will be the team’s nickel corner.
At linebacker, UCF is being held down in the middle by junior Terrance Plummer.
In 2012, Plummer tallied 108 tackles, including an impressive 15-tackle performance against Ohio State.
On the outside, juniors Willie Mitchell and Troy Gray have been getting plenty of looks with the first-team defense.
Gray has seen significant playing time in his first two seasons with UCF, and that trend looks to continue.
Mitchell, who has seen very limited time in his first two seasons at UCF, is set to make the jump to starting outside linebacker.
“[Mitchell] is coming along with his recognition in coverage,” Gray said. He also said that Mitchell is one of several players on the Knights’ defense that is stepping up and making plays.
Defensive back Nicco Whigham is no longer on the roster; he started the spring as a starter at cornerback.