Ten University of Central Florida football players, including two scheduled starters, are stepping down for the 2020 season amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, coach Josh Heupel said on Tuesday.The churn list includes cornerback Tay Gowan and defensive tackle Kalia Davis, who each started nine games last season. Quarterback Darriel Mack Jr., who started three games in 2018 and entered the 2019 season as a planned start before a preseason injury, is also among those who have retired. The group consists of five reserve linemen (three offensives, two defenders).
“We tried to educate our guys on the practices all the time,” Heupel told reporters on Tuesday. “Explain to them what we are doing here to keep them as safe as possible. Each of these children who have chosen to opt out has different reasons behind their decisions. They are valid, they are real, and we stand behind them. and we will continue to help them. ”
Gowan, a junior college transfer who joined UCF in 2019, recorded 31 tackles, two interceptions, eight missed passes, one fumble recovered and one tackle for a loss. Davis was second on the team with eight tackles for a loss in 2019, registering three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble restart.
Other UCF players retiring include cornerback Devunte Dawson, defensive back Elijah Benoit, offensive linemen Allan Adams, Lamarius Benson and Adrian Medley, and defensive linemen Mason Cholewa and Kendrick Wilson.
Mack’s decision means Quadry Jones takes on the replacement role behind starter Dillon Gabriel.
UCF was named the pre-season favorite for the American Athletic Conference on Monday in a poll of members of the media, receiving 10 of 20 first-place votes. The Knights are No. 21 in the AP and Coaches preseason polls.