UCF Football saw several players improve their games during spring training

ORLANDO – You never really know what’s going to happen with Spring Practice. Surprises are taking place across the country. UCF is no exception. Here’s a look at six players on the offensive side of football who are seeing their stock rise and are likely to be counted on this fall for the Knights.

Amari Johnson, WR

Just seeing Johnson’s maturity in the post-Spring Game press conference made it stand out. He gets it. This young man has been fighting for playing time since arriving in Orlando, yet he keeps his foot on the accelerator and moves forward without having a starting position.

As for his game, Johnson’s quick catlike movements speak for themselves. Forget statistics. He’s a guy whose defenses need to know where he is on the pitch. The Spring Game provides ample evidence of this.

The UCF coaching staff should have fun finding unique ways to put football in Johnson’s hands this fall. He deserves his opportunity, and now it’s time for him to earn his just rewards.

John Rhys Plumlee, QB

He can throw the ball with precision. Say it out loud. Go ahead. Everyone knew Plumlee could run like crazy. That doesn’t change either. The highly athletic signalman from Hattiesburg, Mississippi is more than a runner, however, and watching him identify passes confirms he’s a versatile threat behind center.

Now, it’s hard to say exactly how and when the UCF staff decided to allow Plumlee to play bombshells. It probably depends on the opponent in any given game, but interestingly, UCF has a big-armed quarterback who is also a possible 200-yard runner in a game as well.

Jaylon Griffin, WR

Who saw this one coming? Griffin didn’t contribute much on offense in 2021, but that doesn’t matter now. He’s getting praise from coaches and teammates, and he’s also watching last Saturday’s performance-based game.

Long and lean, he’s the definition of what a wide frontier receiver should look like. Griffin could be UCF’s starting catcher this fall. Good for him. Good for UCF.

Ryan Swoboda

Seeing Swoboday move into space reinforces what’s needed: a versatile offensive tackle that plows through an opposing defensive end and also manages a 235-pound edge rusher in a third-down, nine-pass situation.

Swoboda’s length, power and speed will allow him to excel in both circumstances. UCF itself has a quality starter at offensive tackle.

Young ball carriers

With redshirt freshman Anthony Williams and real-life freshman Jordan McDonald, the Knights possess a double dose of reality for defenses. Power, speed, quickness and vision are very similar for both players.

In fact, it’s ironic how similar these two young riders are. They make plays in the hole when it appears a linebacker has them in the crosshairs, only to rotate the tackle and make a positive play.

UCF are loaded at running back, but it will be very difficult to keep Williams or McDonald off the grid. It’s a luxury to have two talented running backs, like these two talented young players, that UCF can get into the game after a defense wears down and beat them with the talents of Williams and McDonald.

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