Despite returning a bulk of its roster from a year ago, including several standouts on the offensive side of the ball, the University of Central Florida still seemingly isn’t receiving the respect some thought they might’ve earned. The Knights open up the 2018 AP Top 25 Poll at No. 21 after finishing 13-0 in 2017.

Some reasoning behind why UCF couldn’t crack into the top 15 is because of the switch of head coaches over the off-season, as former head coach Scott Frost is now the lead man at Nebraska. The Knights hired former Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to take over the program.

UCF did graduate a few standouts on both sides of the ball, including linebacker Shaquem Griffin, who is now playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin was named American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016, and racked up 74 tackles with seven sacks during another productive season in 2017 which saw UCF go undefeated and defeat Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.

One of the biggest reasons why UCF should be in the conversation as one of the nation’s top teams is because of their situation at the quarterback position. The Knights return one of the best signal callers in the nation in McKenzie Milton, who threw for 242 yards and rushed for another 116 on the ground against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. Milton was the catalyst on offense for the Knights, as they racked up scoring 34 or more points 11 times last season.

The Peach Bowl’s Most Valuable Offensive Player has plenty of his top skill players back in the fold as well, starting off with speedster Adrian Killins Jr. Fellow tailback Otis Anderson is another versatile player that will not only see time in the backfield, but also lineup at receiver as well.

Amongst the Florida schools that are in the AP Top 25 Poll, Miami starts off at No. 8 and Florida State University is No. 19, respectively.

About The Author

Andy Villamarzo has covered high school and youth sports for the Tampa Bay Times and The Tampa Tribune as a correspondent since 2008. He is a native of Holiday, FL, who graduated from Gulf High School and studied at St. Petersburg College. He has covered various prep, collegiate and professional athletes throughout his writing career, including Josh Johnson (Jacksonville Jaguars), Patrick Schuster (Arizona Diamondbacks) and currently writes for other publications like The Suncoast News, Friday Night Football Magazine and TopDrawerSoccer.com.

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