UCF Football: 5 breakout freshmen to watch in 2018

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Knights lost Scott Frost to Nebraska, but expectations are still high for UCF football. Who are the players in the class of 2018 who can help it defend its AAC title?

It was a magical season for UCF football in 2017, as the Knights ran rampant on the AAC en route to a conference title, undefeated season, Peach Bowl win, and a controversial national championship claim.

Now, a new era begins. Scott Frost is off to Nebraska, but new coach Josh Heupel passed his first test in Orlando and signed a recruiting class full of players who will be expected to contribute right away. Here are five of the most promising.

Gainous was a good get for Heupel and staff, as the Knights secured his commitment despite offers from NC State, USF, Cincinnati, and a few others. The Miami-native was rated as mid-three star recruit, and he stuck with his pledge to Scott Frost once Heupel was hired and made it official with UCF during the early signing period in December. Better yet, he’s already on campus practicing with the team.

Good thing that UCF has opportunities for playing time in the secondary. The Knights lost standout corner Mike Hughes to the draft, and were often shaky against the pass last year. With the assumption that Heupel’s new offense won’t be quite as effective as Frost’s tremendous unit was, it’ll be vital for the Knights to patch up their holes on defense.

Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon has some work to do, but having talented young athletes like Gainous ready to jump into the fold will make things much easier.