As the Central Florida Knights look to build off their wildly successful 2013 campaign, they’re forced to deal with the loss of some of their biggest playmakers on offense. In addition to quarterback Blake Bortles, who was the first quarterback taken in the 2014 NFL Draft this spring, the Knights also lost their leading rusher Storm Johnson. Can Will Stanback follow up a strong freshman season to lead the team’s rushing attack this season?
Last year, Stanback saw a significant workload for a freshman, carrying the ball 105 times for 443 yards and six touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 186 yards with a touchdown and averaged nearly 20 yards a pop on kick returns. UCF utilized Stanback in a variety of ways, gaining him plenty of experience to prepare him to be the No. 1 back in 2014.
He’ll have some very big shoes to fill. Johnson rushed for 1,139 yards, averaging 5.35 yards per carry, while adding 260 yards receiving on 30 receptions with 17 total touchdowns before declaring early for the NFL. His consistent production and tough running were integral to UCF’s run last season and finding someone who can replicate that will be vital to their chances in 2014.
Stanback showed the ability to be that guy in flashes last season in a support role but will be tasked with taking on a much bigger share of the offense in 2014. His ability to handle that extra responsibility will go a long way in helping the Knights defend their AAC title and keep UCF in the national conversation heading into the College Football Playoff this season.