When the first day of UCF football practice ended on a muggy Wednesday afternoon, head coach George O’Leary, offensive coordinator Brent Key, newcomers and returners to the team had experienced firsts in their lives.
O’Leary wrapped up his first practice as the interim director of athletics, Key was at the helm of the team’s offense for the first time, new players had their first taste of collegiate practice and some returning players were at new positions.
One of those players sporting a new spot on the field was former quarterback Nick Patti. He said that he and the coaching staff began to talk about the move at the beginning of summer B classes. And Patti was all-in when it came time to make the switch.
“It was something I was up to, kind of get a role and get involved a little bit – use my talents the best I can and help the team,” Patti said. “However they feel they need to utilize me to help out.”
The redshirt junior who transferred from Boise State after his freshman year didn’t see much time in the pocket for the Knights, playing in just five games while throwing for 89 yards on 7-for-14 passing and putting up 49 yards and a touchdown on the ground in nine run attempts last season.
“That’s where I see him helping himself right now,” O’Leary said. “He’s a good athlete. He has good quickness. He can do things with the ball in his hands.”
Aside from the decision to move Patti to the outside, O’Leary said he was happy with what he saw out his team during the first day of practice.
He also said he and his staff were able to get everybody a fair share of reps and that they installed a lot in them on the first day.
“We’ll continue doing that throughout the week, as far as see if we can separate some of these guys,” O’Leary said.
After missing four games due to injury last season, redshirt senior Joey Grant was back on the field and happy to be there.
O’Leary stressed the importance of older guys taking charge and displaying their senior leadership, and, after being named a nominee for the Wuerffel Trophy at the end of last season for exemplary community service mixed with athletic and academic achievement, Grant may be at the helm of that charge.
“You learn something new from each season, and as an older guy – as a senior – you try to bring your experiences to the younger guys,” Grant said. “I’m here because I want to win championships. That’s why everyone’s here. That’s why you come to UCF.”
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JHeil11 or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.