CB Joe Burnett

2007 Statistics

Coach: George O'Leary
22-28, 4 years
2007 Record: 10-4
at NC State WON 25-23
at East Carolina LOST 38-52
at South Florida LOST 12-64
at Southern Miss WON 34-17
at UAB WON 45-31
at SMU WON 49-20
UTEP WON 36-20
Mississippi State LOST 3-10

2007 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-37, BCS-UR

2008 Outlook

Is it possible that there is yet another school from this state that could break onto the national scene on a regular basis? All signs point to the Central Florida Knights following up on last year’s 10-4 (CUSA-winning) season by making more noise in 2008. After starting out here 0-11, head coach George O’Leary has, in four years, turned this program back in the direction of annual success.

The rich recruiting grounds here are easily accessed from Orlando, and O’Leary can pick and choose from top talent that seems so abundant, even after the big BCS schools raid the coffers. Save three offensive line prospects, the last two years have brought in speed, speed, and even more speed. O’Leary and his staff have increased the overall quality of each successive incoming class. The result is a roster full of passed-over talent yearning to show their wares. Under O’Leary’s proven (BCS level) leadership, the sum of these modest parts can reach their collective potential.

The offense will become more balanced with the talents in this all-new backfield. Dual-threat QB Mikey Greco means a change up from the way the offense was run last season, when it leaned upon the laborious efforts of Kevin Smith’s 450 carries, which became the new FBS single-season record. Of trio replacing him, first seen will be Phillip Smith as the feature back, but Brynn Harvey and/or Jayson Williams are each capable of becoming “the man” if given the shot. Greco’s arm hasn’t proven so dangerous, but it is streaky (went 11-for-12 in his first game here) and will get more of a work out, if for no other reason than to keep foes honest. The experienced line will produce results, so it’s up to Greco to be the variable most reflective of whether more or less wins come forth.

Assistant Dave Huxtable gets the promotion to coordinate the D, and his first year in charge will prove a good one. The defense is the main reason we see UCF continuing its reign over this fledging conference. Almost every starter is back from the nation’s No.49 total defense. The line – which replaces the most hats – will do well since Huxtable’s specialty is that area, and a stellar secondary will be one of the nation’s best. Moreover, the corners can do such a good job of smothering their guys that the safeties will be expandable as long as there aren’t too many five-WR sets to cover. The defense rides a strong performance over the last eight games of ’07 into this campaign, so picking up where they left off seems like a realistic proposition.

When the schedule actually begins on September 6th (South Carolina State is a great school, but doesn’t really count as true competition for UCF), three tough OOC foes make the first seven games the most important part of the Knight’s season. South Florida and Miami are great measuring sticks and in-state foes who need to be annual rivals; football heritage such as this is important for a young program (FAU also seems like a tailored fit, another smaller state school looking for the same leg up into the regional/national spotlight via legitimate competition). The East Carolina Pirates and Southern Miss Golden Eagles shouldn’t be discounted as serious threats, but neither looks nearly as good as UCF. Tulsa should be the main CUSA competition, and if they are an in-conference version of a needed nemesis, then their Sunday night tussle looks good enough not too miss.

This isn’t going to be a team that sneaks up the BCS ladder. That doesn’t mean they won’t take even more incremental steps toward improving the team’s infrastructure. Making the transitions on D after this year’s exits will be vital, but the speed and potential of these last few classes promises the future is still bright, even with that much turnover. This school will fly under the radar of your average college football fan, so enjoy them as an underdog while they still look up at the bigger, older programs.

Projected 2008 record: 8-4
QB - 3 DL - 3.5
RB - 2.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 3 DB - 4.5
OL - 3.5 ..
2007 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:
Passing: Michael Greco, 24-45-1, 303 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Phillip Smith, 52 att., 246 yds., 4 TD

: Rocky Ross, 50 rec., 658 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Kamar Aiken, 5 TD, 1 two-pt. conv., 32 pts.

Blake Clingan, 59 punts, 40.7 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Sha'reff Rashad, 103 tot., 84 solo

Sacks: Bruce Miller, 7 sacks

Interceptions: Joe Burnett, 6 for 40 yds.; Johnell Neal, 6 for 159 yds., 1 TD

Kickoff Returns: Emery Allen, 13 ret., 23.9 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Joe Burnett, 31 ret., 10.7 avg., 1 TD


DB Sha'reff Rashad
OFFENSE: Kyle Israel-QB, Curtis Francis-TB, Sergio Joachim-WR, Mike Merritt-TE, Kyle Smith-C, Josh Sitton-OT, Michael Torres-K, Kevin Smith-TB (NFL), L.J. Anderson-OG (NFL), Cliff McCray-OG
DEFENSE: Leger Douzable-DE, Emeka Okammor-DE, Keith Shologan-DT

Moving the ball here is going to continue at the same methodical rate. What will be new to their profile will be a running QB, a sure way to make it so the next running back has an every-play distraction for creating holes. When you have a guy like Kevin Smith, you run it – like UCF did – nearly two-thirds of the time. Even with Mike Greco and Phillip Smith composing the new backfield, the Knights won’t continue running it so much. Greco has lightning speed, and in his first outing for UCF, he was 11-of-12 for 151 yards, with 10 carries for 77 yards on top of that. This spring revealed his decision-making is decent, but he doesn’t have much precision to his deeper throws. The flip side is Joe Weatherford, the brother of FSU’s Drew and a pro-style passer with decent mobility. Greco is exciting to watch and full of potential, so he will have to fail miserably before Weatherford is given full reign.

The newest Knight RB named Smith (Phillip) is a capable runner who will find the CUSA defenses as easy to get through as his predecessor did. Brynn Harvey looks like a serious threat, as does Jayson Williams and his skill set (he’s the most complete back). Ricky Kay is two-back window dressing who pushes more than he produces. Kay gets a personal test with the new backfield – is he a good enough blocker to again have UCF lead the conference in rushing? With the revampings along the line, Kay could be a pivotal factor.

The best dimension on this side of the ball has to be the experienced receiving corps. Ross and Aiken have their roles set – Kamar will be even better after stretching the field so well as a freshman, and Rocky is tough over the middle as a ‘go to’ type. Watters is pushing both for reps after his huge spring. He might be the fastest Knight. Haynes also looks like he could break out if Greco/Weatherford can get him the rock deep, which is where he will be most effective with his 6’4 frame.

Brown is going to be the anchor at left tackle. Mike Lavoie and Cody Minnich may be seniors, but neither has ever started and both have limited (mostly special teams) experience. DeVane and Minnich are being pushed hard by their backups, obviously a good thing for the prospects of this group having depth. Jah Reid is about the biggest guy in the conference. He lost 50 lbs of fat since arriving, allowing him the range to earn some starts and Freshman All-CUSA status. TE Corey Rabazinski further grounds the line; the Winter Park product isn’t a blazer but proves effective in the patterns he runs.

Coordinator Tim Salem gets his own test since he can’t give Kevin Smith the rock nearly every play anymore (he now has an FBS all-time single-season high for carries with 450). There goes ball control. Balance has to be found, for if one dimension is again ranked 9th (rushing) as the other is ranked 105th (passing), the offense will not be running anywhere near optimally.


OT Patrick Brown


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Michael Greco-Jr (6-3, 220) Joe Weatherford-Fr (6-4, 200)
FB Ricky Kay-So (6-3, 245) ..
TB Phillip Smith-So (6-1, 194) Ronnie Weaver-Fr (6-0, 202)
WR Kamar Aiken-So (6-2, 205) Brian Watters-So (6-2, 183)
Khymest Williams-So (5-10, 175)
WR Rocky Ross-Sr (6-2, 196) Sidney Haynes-So (6-4, 214)
A.J. Guyton-So (5-11, 188)
TE Corey Rabazinski-Jr (6-3, 243) Adam Nissley-Fr (6-6, 260)
OT Patrick Brown-Jr (6-5, 292) Mike Buxton-So (6-8, 314)
OG Jeramy DeVane-Jr (6-3, 300) Nick Pieschel-Fr (6-7, 296)
C Mike Lavoie-Sr (6-5, 292) Ian Bustillo-Jr (6-2, 312)
OG Cody Minnich-Sr (6-3, 296) Wes Tanuufi Sauvao-So (6-3, 300)
OT Jah Reid-So (6-7, 320) Billy Offutt-Fr (6-6, 305)
K Jordan Dodds-So (5-11, 210) ..




Dave Huxtable returns to the coordinators chair after being the main assistant on D for the past four years. Huxtable has lots of experience at the FBS level, working with O’Leary at Georgia Tech as his DC from 1996-97. "It is a real nice feeling knowing that we have nine returning starters. It's been helpful for the younger kids this spring to be able to watch those older kids play the positions and make the adjustments. The younger kids are learning from the older kids so hopefully now that…can give us some help in the fall," Huxtable says.

The front seven has five returning starters and two guys on the line who know the ins and outs real well. End Bruce Miller had the most consistent effort in ’07 of those who come back. Nall is fast enough that he started at linebacker, but they have him back up front now, probably as a hybrid that can drop back with TEs and extra receivers. The biggest surprise for spring was backup LB David Williams vaulting past Nall for the first-team designation. Both of these guys use a tireless motor to overcome marginal size issues. JUCO transfer Geathers passed on Oklahoma State and N.C. State to come here. Inside, Huxtable can bank on a pair of junior double-Ts from Georgia. Torrell Troup didn’t start last year, but he did so during his true freshman year. Troup is in place of departee Shologan, so he will have to pick up his effort to provide the same stopping power. Troup’s size is important so that Travis Timmons can wreak havoc. Timmons is looking like a breakout player, and his ability to line up on the outside will allow the staff to be more creative with assignments/responsibilities. The same goes for Wallace’s large-but-fast talents; the inside depth isn’t so strong, so bodies are being tried out (Harndin bumping up from LB seems an iffy proposition.)

The three main LBs started six games together in ’07. Ex-DB Hallman was just too good not to push his talents further into the box, so as a true frosh, he proved he is the future of the corps for a few years to come. Hallman breaking out even more will compliment senior Cory Hogue, who isn’t quite as fast as Hallman. Chance Henderson has the most accomplishments on which to hang his helmet; his first year as an upperclassman and leader will prove to be fruitful for the rest of his teammates. Ex-QB Alex Thompson left the hotbed of football in his hometown of Gainesville to be a bigger fish in the smaller Orlando pond. He and Jordan Richards – who missed all of last year due to a shoulder problem – make this a deep enough crew that the second team can do as well as the starters.

The secondary will get another new position coach, the third one in the past three years. Gary Blackney was Bowling Green’s head coach, and he gets a veteran group that is possibly the best in CUSA. The corners are the conference’s top pair – six INTs for each is the new school mark for outside starters. The two seniors can each be left alone with no worries after combining for 73 starts over their careers here (these four comprised the first team for every game but one). Joe Burnett is the school’s second leading all-time pickoff artist and an All-American for it. The Knights were third in the FBS with 24 INTs. Baldwin’s stat line outshines Allen’s efforts, but Allen is the most often used nickel back for a reason. The safety and corner starters have all started at least six games apiece in each of the past three years…a group that knows each other’s tendencies. Rahsad and Venson as the top tacklers in ’07 shows that they can do the job, but if they have to do as much again, the rest of the defense will not be keeping up their end(s). That isn’t as likely with so many starters back. Weams’ move from corner to safety shows his ability in one-on-one and how it now goes with his ability to manage a huge amount of defensive space.

After this D gave up 52 and 64 against ECU and USF, respectively, in weeks six and eight, they then held the No.1 offense in the nation – Tulsa – to 23 points. Later, they held the Golden Hurricanes to 25 points in another winning effort in the conference finals; from that first game against Tulsa onward, UCF held all of their foes to 31 points or under, allowing an average of just under 23 points per game during that span after the Knights had allowed over 35 per game over their first six contests. The bottom line of that statistical barrage is that UCF is on a defensive roll and has so many starters and reserves back – no freshman inhabits the two-deep – it’s ridiculous how much better they could become.


DE Bruce Miller


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE David Williams-So (6-2, 234) Darius Nall-So (6-3, 230)
DT Travis Timmons-Jr (6-4, 285) Antonio Wallace-Sr (6-2, 251)
DT Torrell Troup-Jr (6-3, 320) T.J. Harnden-Jr (6-3, 242)
DE Bruce Miller-So (6-2, 249) Jarvis Geathers-Jr (6-2, 215)
OLB Derrick Hallman-So (6-0, 205) Jordan Richards-Jr (6-2, 226)
MLB Chance Henderson-Jr (6-1, 241) Alex Thompson-Jr (6-2, 231)
OLB Cory Hogue-Sr (6-1, 228) Lawrence Young-So (6-0, 212)
CB Johnell Neal-Sr (5-11, 176) Emery Allen-Jr (5-9, 176)
CB Joe Burnett-Sr (5-11, 185) Darin Baldwin-So (6-0, 190)
SS Sha'reff Rashad-Sr (6-0, 198) Reggie Weams-So (6-0, 187)
FS Jason Venson-Sr (5-10, 211) Breon Rogers-Sr (6-3, 207)
P Blake Clingan-So (6-3, 221) Parker Langley-So (5-11, 176)




The punting game is healthy under Blake Clingan’s care. As just a frosh, he was steady and long; expectations for an even better showing this year are high. The new blood at placekicker has big shoes to fill. Local product Jordan Dodds returns from South Carolina to tentatively hold onto the spot, but he has two freshmen breathing down his neck. Joe Burnett as a PR is consistent and a good safety valve for fakes. Khymest Williams and Darin Baldwin on kick returns are proven commodities, with Williams eclipsing Baldwin after each had eight tries last year.