UCF's Cornerstone

By HarryPNolan
Oct. 27, 2016

?Want to hear an interesting stat from UCF's win against Uconn? Of the 24 points UCF scored against the Huskies, 18 of the points came from Freshmen. It wasn't just because McKenzie Milton went all JFF against the Huskies, but Dredrick Snelson and Adrian Killins as well. Through out the season, Scott Frost has been systematically working in his players all season long. Yes many of the leaders of the UCF team are George O'Leary players. However as the season has progressed, Frost has brought in the freshman. These are his players, the players that he envisioned would fit in perfectly into his system. Oh and how they have delivered. These freshmen that Frost has brought in this season have become the cornerstone of the UCF program. After a miserable recruiting class in 2015, UCF finally has a class that can be the anchor for the Frost rebuild.

Finding the future quarterback is imperative for a team that is building. A quarterback can cure all that ails a program. A superstar quarterback can rejuvenate a fanbase. Well Frost found that in McKenzie Milton. To say that Milton has been a joy to watch is an understatement.  I remember how leading into the Maryland game, how stories came out that many of Milton's teammates compared him to Johnny Manziel. One could see signs of that against Maryland, but there were still holes. But against Uconn, you can see why the comparison was made. Milton went 29-46 for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns. However it was not just the stats on paper that showed why Milton is the future of the quarterback position, it is the plays that he made. Last week against Temple, Milton was sacked seven times. Against UConn that number was 0. That was because Milton went full on Johnny Manziel. There were countless times where Milton avoided the rush and used his legs. This is where Justin Holman would have taken the sack and UCF would not have been able to come back from 13-0 down. It also showed why people like Mike Bianchi are idiots. Milton adds a whole different dimension to this offense. Oh and want to know his stats since conference play started? 527 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 int, and a 150.4 quarterback rating. This is as a true freshman. Milton is going to be special.

Jawon Hamilton and Adrian Killins have not been spectacular since conference play started. However, both have shown the ability to be the successors to Wilson. Hamilton, despite his size, has shown the ability to be the hard nose back that is critical to success in Frost's offense. But the main person I want to focus on here is Killins. In baseball a player that can play all of the positions is known as a utility player. A player that excels at a multitude of positions. Well Adrian Killins has become a utility player for UCF. He has not scored a touchdown as a running back since conference play has started. But what he has done is score a touchdown as a kick returner and two touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield. Killins causes coaches headaches because he can be used anywhere on the field. Hell, Tom Herman even mentioned that in his press conference this week. Both players are going to be huge for UCF in the future. 

After the FIU game, wide receiver tweeted something that made all of the UCF fanbase panic. Of course he is only an 18 year old and has had limited opportunities. But that is because UCF's wide receiver position is so deep. It's hard for Frost and Co to get Snelson playing time. Enter Tristan Payton's suspension. Payton was suspended following a confrontation on the sidelines vs Temple. This meant that Snelson would get much needed time against Uconn. Oh and how he made the most of that time. Snelson would shine against UConn catching the ball 5 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. In fact his touchdown sparked the UCF rally. It's not that Snelson caught the ball 5 times, but it's that he made it look so easy. He and Milton seem to have a chemistry. This playing opposite Tre'Quan Smith shall allow Snelson to shine and be the next great UCF WR. 

Jordan Johnson is in a less than glamorous position on the field. That being offensive guard, yet for years UCF has needed a rock on the line. Someone that can be tough and a mauler. Johnson has provided just that. Yes, he has made some mistakes like getting a penalty that killed a drive inside the Uconn redzone. However, ever since he has been inserted into the lineup, the offensive line has looked much better. He has become an anchor. A player that the coaching staff can count on to get a few crack back blocks and open gaps. Johnson along with Aaron Dowdell and Boman Swanson(both redshirted) are going to be the future anchors of UCF's offensive line,

Last, but not least is Trysten Hill. The 18 year old man child is terrifying. Not only is the defensive end terrorizing defenses, but he already has set the squatting record at UCF. (He squatted 730 pounds). Hill has arguably been the most impressive of the freshman. Oh and did I mention that he did not sign with the Knights on signing day? Rather he pledged his commitment to Virginia. But do to luck and wanting to stay at home, Johnson enrolled at UCF.  Thank goodness for that. Hill has started every single game at UCF. The defensive line was one of the biggest questions headed into the season. Yet because of Pittman and Hill, the defensive line has been UCF's best unit this season. Pressuring and harassing quarterbacks, while opening gaps for linebackers to shoot through. Go look at the game against Temple, late in the fourth quarter. Hill beats the Temple offensive lineman off the edge and smashes Philip Walker and forced what should have been the game clenching fumble. If he continued to progress like this, Hill might end up being one of the best defensive players in UCF history. 
Heading into the season, UCF had many questions at positions. Those questions have been answered by freshmen. Many UCF fans got excited with Frost's first recruiting class as we knew that these would be some very good players for UCF. Some  those players(the ones not redshirted) have exceeded those expectations at a faster rate. These freshmen have become the cornerstone to UCF's future. These freshmen are the catalyst for UCF's surprising turn around this year. These players are the building blocks in the foundation that Frost has laid. That should excite fans.