Knight Light: UCF transfers who will make an immediate impact

Written by: Andrew Johnson (@RealNews102)

Orlando, FL – UCF Football will enter the 2022 season with a myriad of new faces that have joined through the Transfer Portal. The Knights’ boarded 15 players on the Gus Bus during the off-season with American Athletic Conference Championship aspirations ahead. 

 

Before UCF opens the season on Sept. 1 against South Carolina State in the Bounce House, here’s a transfer portal edition of Knightlight players. Essentially, this list features players that haven’t played much but have tremendous upside and those that can make an immediate impact. 

 

Knightlight Transfer Edition

 

John Rhys Plumlee

 

Size: 6’0, 200-pounds

 

Class: Senior

 

Position: QB1

 

The long-awaited starting quarterback decision ended on Sunday with John Rhys Plumlee chosen to take the first snaps of the 2022 season as QB1. It was a competitive and somewhat secretive battle until a week before game one where Gus Malzahn announced via Twitter that Plumlee will start over the incumbent Mikey Keene. The former Ole Miss transfer is a dual-sport athlete, playing both football and baseball. Speed is what defines his game. He ran for over 200 yards against LSU in 2019 before transitioning to play wide receiver. Plumlee can still make all the throws as Knight Nation saw him complete four touchdown passes in the spring game. Now, he can develop even more chemistry with the skill position talent and Malzahn will have full control of this offense with the addition of a mobile quarterback. 

 

Lee Hunter 

 

Size: 6’4, 320-pounds 

 

Class: Redshirt Freshman

 

Position: DT

 

Hunter was a highly sought-after Auburn transfer and still has a few years of eligibility left as a redshirt freshman. He’s a truly dominant interior defensive lineman that can dictate the offense. The 6’4, 320-pound giant will be a KNIGHTMARE in 1v1 situations. Ferocious hands, & a double team magnet. The combination of Hunter, Ricky Barber, Anthony Montalvo, and Keenan Hester will provide better depth and experience for the defensive line group. In high school, Hunter recorded 54 tackles, 20 TFL, 4.5 sacks as a senior in 2020 for coach Lev Holly and the Leopards at Blount High School in Mobile, Alabama

 

Javon Baker 

 

Size: 6’2, 208-pounds

 

Class: Junior

 

Position: WR

 

Surprised he was still left in the portal. The Alabama transfer provides competitive SEC experience with electric speed and great route running abilities. Baker recorded seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown in 12 games of action at Alabama. UCF will look to replace the production of Jaylon Robinson and Brandon Johnson from a season ago with the talents of Baker and Auburn transfer Kobe Hudson. Both mentioned that they actually decided to team up in Orlando. The dynamic WR returnee Ryan O’Keefe lined up with Baker and Hudson will be hard for defenses to game plan against.

 

Jason Johnson 

 

Size: 6’2, 200-pounds

 

Class: Redshirt Junior

 

Position: LB

 

Johnson was a beast at the FCS level. He decided to transfer to UCF after becoming a 3x All-American and earning a spot on the Hero Sports All-American Team for both his sophomore and junior seasons. Johnson has a restless motor, tremendous athleticism, and versatile skills. This was a huge move for Gus Malzahn and staff to give Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste some extra muscle. After losing both Tatum Bethune and Bryson Armstrong, the linebacker position immediately became the most suspect. In regard to Johnson, tape doesn’t lie, he’s a baller. Johnson was the Ohio Valley Conference’s leading tackler this past season with 112 stops, which ranked No. 7 overall in FCS. He was also tied for the FCS lead with four fumble recoveries. 

 

Ryan Swoboda 

 

Size: 6’10, 325-pounds

 

Class: Fifth year

 

Position: OT

 

Swoboda transferred to UCF in January 2022 after five seasons at Virginia. He played in 45 games at UVA starting 22, including 21 of the last 22 at tackle. He also blocked on an offensive line that helped Virginia average 515.8 yards of total offense, third-most of any FBS program at the time. According to Pro Football Focus, he only allowed five sacks on 549 allowed pressure opportunities and had a 96.6 pass-blocking efficiency rating. Swoboda adds valuable and needed experience to the position. With Sam Jackson moving to guard, Matt Lee still being a beast at center, Lokahi Pauole dominated guard, the additions of Swoboda and Tylan Grable were certainly a chess move. 

 

Honorable mentions: 

 

Koby Perry

 

Kobe Hudson 

 

Kemore Gamble

 

Tylan Grable

 

Branden Jennings 

 

Terrence Lewis 

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