As the UCF Knights look to a make a name for themselves in a new conference next season, they’ll have to do it without some of their key defensive leaders in the secondary. The Knights lose half of their starting secondary, including a defensive captain, heading into 2013, leaving a void of leadership that someone must fill. Is Clayton Geathers up to the task?
He has some serious shoes to fill. UCF will sorely miss the talents of safety Kemal Ishmael, a sixth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons, and cornerback A.J. Bouye. The pair combined for six of the team’s 11 interceptions in 2012, including one returned for a touchdown by Bouye. That production, and more importantly their leadership, must get picked up by somebody next fall.
Geathers is the logical choice to fill that role next season as the veteran of what will be a young and inexperienced secondary for UCF next season. He is entering his third season as a starter at the back end of the defense at safety. Last season, he racked up 117 tackles, second only to Ishmael, with four tackles for loss, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. UCF needs him to cause more turnovers and become a more vocal leader on the defense, however, in 2013.
He won’t have much experienced help to give him a hand, though. Junior cornerback Brandon Alexander turned in a solid sophomore season in 2012 and will get an expanded role on the defense next season, but the rest of the unit will be filled out by first year players and even a converted wide receiver. The group started the spring looking very green and giving up huge chunks of yards, but got better as they gained more experience.
Can Geathers keep the unit moving in a positive direction through the summer and into next fall?