Receivers Hope to Catch On

After a tough year offensively, the Knights are looking to improve on that side of the ball. With 10 of 11 starters returning, it's fathomable that the unit will make a big jump, but it will be dependent on its receivers regaining and thus developing their confidence.

It's hard to point fingers and blame UCF's dismal offensive performance last year on one position. The offensive line was ravaged by injuries and early departures, the true freshmen running backs didn't come on until late, and the team was forced to throw freshman Rob Calabrese to the wolves.

The group that may have had the roughest season on offense was the wide receivers, as the group developed a case of the dropsises over the summer and never really got over it. Rocky Ross' season was cut short due to injury, Kamar Aiken also suffered a broken foot and the unit never caught on.

Heading into the 2009 season, UCF seems settled at running back with Brynn Harvey and quarterback with Rob Calabrese. The offensive line will see a huge jump in talent with the additions of Cliff McCray and Abre Leggins, as well as Steve Robinson coming off a redshirt year. The only position that no one is quite sure of yet is at wide receiver and things will begin to be cleared up there starting this summer.

"In fact, the receiver group is probably one of the strongest position groups on the team," said offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe. "They're a little older, we have more mature guys there. Their work this summer has been fantastic."

With expectations high, the receivers will be closely monitored by fans, media and coaches alike. It's not a matter of talent amongst UCF's receivers, it never has been, but a matter of concentration, confidence and consistency. Taaffe feels that the wide outs have the ability to be a good group, but they must believe in themselves.

"That group overall is a good group, we just need some confidence and some success. That's a group we're going to kind of depend on, but if nothing else their maturity and experience."

From top to bottom, the receivers have the ability to be potent. Rocky Ross is a gritty player and a leader who was productive as a sophomore and junior (nearly 1,200 yards combined). If he can recover from an shoulder injury, he should be a critical ingredient to the team's success with both his on and off-field presence.

Brian Watters, the team's leading receiver last year with 594 yards, is also back. He will be joined by incoming grey-shirt freshman Marquee Williams, who was extremely impressive in the spring.

Also adding an injection to the offense will be A.J. Guyton, who missed all of last year with a torn ACL. Coming back from injuries this spring will be Aiken and speedster Khymest Williams.

"I didn't get to see a lot of Kamar (Aiken) and Khymest (Williams) because they got injured fairly early on," added Taaffe. "It's important this preseason that we get them evaluated, get them in place."

With every receiver that caught a pass last year coming back, the Knights are expecting to be rejuvenated in the passing game. As Calabrese becomes more refined as a quarterback, the receivers will benefit. If they can get some confidence early and begin to routinely make plays, there's no telling how good this passing attack can be. If the Knights don't get production from the aforementioned receivers though, it might be tough for the team to find a well-balanced offense, so it's crucial that they improve drastically this summer.


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